The Parliament passed a bill which seeks to ban electronic cigarettes. On the 27th of November, the Lok Sabha passed the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Bill, 2019.
Harsh Vardhan, the Health Minister of India, supported the Bill and said a measure like this is necessary to protect the youth from a new intoxication.
Despite opposition from a few members, the Lok Sabha passed the bill after a voice vote. The justification given by the opposition was the lack of a ban on tobacco products. Harsh Vardhan said the Government will not promote a new addiction just because tobacco products are not banned yet.
Mr. Vardhan said, “To promote e cigarettes vaping was marketed as fashionable to influence youngsters, which will eventually lead them to addiction of intoxicant substance, so the ban was necessary.” He further said, “I can’t be insensitive to the health of our people and the ordinance was a presumptive strike on this hazardous addiction.”
Justifying his point, Mr. Vardhan said it is better to ban something before the use becomes common. Since e cigarettes are not that popular yet, eliminating their use is easier.
Vardhan also spoke about a white paper issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research, demanding the ban of e cigarettes.
According to the Bill, if anyone uses e cigarettes or alternative smoking devices, it would be counted as an offence punishable by a jail term and/or a heavy fine.
First time violators would be jailed for one year with a fine of Rs. 1 lakh. Repeated offenders may be sentenced to a jail term of up to three years and/or a fine of Rs. 5 lakhs.
Meanwhile, the storage of e cigarettes would lead to a jail term of 6 months with a fine of up to Rs. 50,000.
The Central Government would implement the Bill after it is approved by the Rajya Sabha and President Ram Nath Kovind.
Stay tuned for further updates.