Photo: Mint
Photo: Mint

Rajya Sabha passes Bill seeking blanket ban on e-cigarettes

  • According to the Bill, any person who contravenes provisions will be punishable with imprisonment of up to one-year or a fine of up to 1 lakh, or both
  • Rajya sabha members demand that the ban should be applicable to raw tobacco and conventional cigarettes

NEW DELHI : India is all set to impose a blanket ban on e-cigarettes as Rajya Sabha on Monday passed The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Bill, 2019.

The Bill that was passed with voice vote in upper house, has already received a nod from the Lok Sabha. During the discussion, responding to apprehensions of Rajya Sabha members, union health minister Harsh Vardhan said, “We have done it with very pious intention and there is no vested interest of the government."

Rajya sabha members argued that the government had brought this bill under pressure from tobacco lobby. They further demanded that the ban should also be applicable to raw tobacco and conventional cigarettes. Harsh Vardhan, in response, said that he would be the happiest person if tobacco could be banned completely.

Ripun Bora from Congress though showed his support to the Bill, argued that banning e-cigarettes would not be effective alone. But all other tobacco-based products are also dangerous to health that they should be also be banned along with e-cigarettes. Sharing the argument, Nadimul Haque (TMC) demanded that all tobacco-based products must be banned in the country.

BJP MP Vikas Mahatme citing US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report said that it is nowhere written in the report that e-cigarettes are less dangerous than conventional tobacco products. Mahatme went on saying that banning of e-cigarettes would help in reducing the consumption of harmful substances.

According to the Bill that seeks to replace an ordinance issued on September 18 into a law, any person who contravenes these provisions will be punishable with imprisonment of up to one-year, or a fine of up to 1 lakh, or both. For any subsequent offence, imprisonment of up to three years along with a fine of up to 5 lakh. The proposed legislation prohibits to use any place for the storage of any stock of e-cigarettes and a person storing stock of e-cigarettes, will be punishable with an imprisonment of up to six months, or a fine of up to 50,000, or both.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the apex research body in India, use of e-cigarettes has documented adverse effect on humans, which include DNA damage, carcinogenic, cellular, molecular and immunological toxicity, respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological disorders. These also have an adverse effect on fetal development and pregnancy.

“The passage of the Bill by both the Houses is a right direction and it should be followed by ban on pan masala also that contains nicotine," said Ravi Mehrotra, chief executive officer (CEO), Indian Cancer Research Consortium, ICMR.

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