The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha has passed a bill to ban E-Cigarettes, i.e, The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Ordinance, 2019.
Electronic-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that produce an aerosol by heating a solution containing nicotine, which is the addictive substance in combustible cigarettes. These include all forms of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, Heat Not Burn Products, e-Hookah and the like devices. These novel products come with attractive appearances and multiple flavours and their use has increased exponentially and has acquired epidemic proportions in developed countries, especially among youth and children.
Upon promulgation of the Ordinance, any production, manufacturing, import, export, transport, sale (including online sale), distribution or advertisement (including online advertisement) of e-cigarettes shall be a cognizable offence punishable with an imprisonment of up to one year or fine up to Rs. 1 lakh or both for the first offence; and imprisonment of up to three years and fine up to Rs. 5 lakh for a subsequent offence. Storage of electronic-cigarettes shall also be punishable with imprisonment up to 6 months or fine up to Rs 50,000 or both.
Highlights of the Ordinance
- Electronic cigarettes are electronic devices that heat a substance (natural or artificial) to create vapour for inhalation. These e-cigarettes may contain nicotine and flavours and include all forms of electronic nicotine delivery systems, heat-not-burn products, and e-hookahs.
- The Ordinance prohibits the manufacture, trade, and advertisement of e-cigarettes in India. Any person who contravenes these provisions will be punishable with imprisonment of up to one year, or a fine of up to one lakh rupees, or both.
- No person is allowed to use any place for the storage of any stock of e-cigarettes. If any person stores any stock of e-cigarettes, he will be punishable with an imprisonment of up to six months, or a fine of up to Rs 50,000, or both.
Key Issues and Analysis
- The Ordinance prohibits the trade, advertisement, storage, and transport of e-cigarettes as studies indicate that they may attract new users of nicotine. However, some other studies have argued that e-cigarettes are substantially less harmful than traditional cigarettes and could aid smokers give up the habit.
- Electronic cigarettes: The Ordinance defines electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) as electronic devices that heat a substance (natural or artificial) to create aerosol for inhalation. These e-cigarettes may contain nicotine and flavours and include all forms of electronic nicotine delivery systems, heat-not-burn products, e-hookahs, and other similar devices. Note that, the definition of e-cigarettes does not include any medical product licensed under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.
- Banning of e-cigarettes: The Ordinance prohibits the production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution and advertisement of e-cigarettes in India. Any person who contravenes these provisions will be punishable with imprisonment of up to one year, or a fine of up to one lakh rupees, or both. For any subsequent offence, the person will be punishable with imprisonment of up to three years, along with a fine of up to five lakh rupees.
- Storage of e-cigarettes: No person is allowed to use any place for the storage of any stock of e-cigarettes. If a person stores any stock of e-cigarettes, he will be punishable with an imprisonment of up to six months, or a fine of up to Rs 50,000, or both.
- From the date on which the Ordinance came into force (i.e., September 18, 2019), the owners of existing stocks of e-cigarettes are required to declare and deposit these stocks at the nearest office of an authorised officer. Such an authorised officer may be a police officer (at least at the level of a sub-inspector), or any other officer as notified by the central or state government.
- Powers of authorised officers: If an authorised officer believes that any provision of the Ordinance has been contravened, he may search any place where trade, production, storage, or advertising of e-cigarettes is being undertaken. The authorised officer can seize any record or property connected to e-cigarettes found during the search. Further, he may take the person connected to the offence into custody. However, if the property or records found during the search cannot be seized, the authorised officer may make an order to attach such property, stocks or records.