India’s move to ban e-cigarettes ‘historic’, says US-based advocacy group

NEW DELHI : India has become a leader in the global fight against a youth e-cigarette epidemic by taking a “historic” decision to ban such nicotine and tobacco products, a US-based top advocacy group has said.

The government on Wednesday banned production, import and sale of e-cigarettes and similar products, citing health risk to people, especially youth. An ordinance will be brought in to make it an offence, entailing jail term of up to three years as well as fine.

The decision was taken by the Union cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

President of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Matthew L Myers said India’s decision to ban the sale, manufacture, import and advertising of e-cigarettes nationwide was a “bold effort” to protect youth from the risk of nicotine addiction.

He praised the government for taking such decisive action to prevent a youth e-cigarette epidemic in India.

The rapid introduction of e-cigarettes in countries around the world poses new challenges to governments dedicated to protecting youth and reducing tobacco use.

“Today, in a historic step, the government of India has banned the sale, manufacture, import and advertising of e-cigarettes nationwide as part of a bold effort to protect youth from the risk of nicotine addiction.

“Today’s ban is historic for India and the world as India becomes a leader in the fight to prevent a youth e-cigarette epidemic,” the campaign said in a statement on Wednesday.

The use of e-cigarettes by youth presents serious concerns as the use of nicotine in any form is unsafe, causes addiction and can harm adolescent brain development, Myers said.

In the United States, e-cigarette use has soared to epidemic levels thanks to the marketing tactics of companies like Juul and the widespread availability of e-cigarette flavors like mango, mint and bubblegum, he said.

From social media influencers to celebrity endorsements, the marketing tactics of e-cigarette makers are straight from the playbook of Big Tobacco, Myres said.

These tactics are exposing an entirely new generation of youth to addictive products and threaten to undo decades of progress in curbing tobacco use, he said, adding that the governments around the world cannot wait to take action on e-cigarettes.

Myres said all countries must take effective action to prevent e-cigarette use among young people and keep these products from undermining global efforts to drive down tobacco use.