The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved an ordinance to ban production, import, distribution and sale of electronic cigarettes, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said. Sitharaman, who had headed a Group of Ministers (GoM) on the issue, said the Cabinet decided to ban e-cigarettes and similar products as they pose health risk to people, especially the youth.
"The production, manufacturing, import or export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertising related to e-cigarettes are banned," Ms Sitharaman said. The Union Cabinet had cleared an ordinance regarding this and the same has been sent to President Ram Nath Kovind.
Sitharaman, who had recently faced the heat of social media for blaming millennials for the economic slowdown in auto sector, said that the people are using e-cigarettes for "style statement".
"Reports say that there are some who are probably getting into the habit of e-cigarettes as it seems cool. It is believed that there are more than 400 brands, none of which is manufactured yet in India. And they come in over 150 flavours," Ms Sitharaman said.
E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that produce aerosol by heating a solution containing nicotine, which is the addictive substance in combustible cigarettes. The ban was imposed as the government feared that e-cigarettes may become "epidemic" among children and young adults.
The Prohibition of e-cigarettes Ordinance, 2019, makes the production, manufacturing, import or export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertising related to e-cigarettes a criminal offence. While first-time violators will be face a jail term up to one year along with a penalty of Rs 1 lakh, subsequent violations can lead to imprisonment of three years or a fine up to Rs. 5 lakhs or both.