E-cigarette ban: WHO lauds India’s move, says ‘definitive’ step to protect public health

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during a press conference in New Delhi, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (Express photo: Tashi Tobgyal)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Friday congratulated the Indian government for putting a ban on e-cigarettes across the country. Terming the government’s move as ‘strong and definitive step’, the WHO in a statement said this will go a long way in protecting public health and wellbeing of future generations.

"The strong leadership demonstrated by the government by banning e-cigarettes will go a long way in protecting public health and wellbeing of future generations," the WHO said in a statement.

It also said the use of these products has increased exponentially acquiring epidemic proportions in developed countries, especially among the youth and children.

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On September 18, the Indian government approved an ordinance that prohibits the production, import, distribution and sale of electronic cigarettes, and proposes a jail term for violating the provisions. The decision to prohibit e-cigarettes will help protect the population, especially the youth and children, from the risk of addiction through E-cigarettes," the government had said in a statement.

The move garnered support from a large section of medical experts. However, industry associations and users of e-cigarettes claimed that the move discriminates against a product that is less harmful than traditional tobacco. They also say that such products helped people quit smoking.

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Under the new rule, first-time offenders may face imprisonment of up to one year, a fine up to Rs 1 lakh, or both. Subsequent offences may lead to up to three years imprisonment and Rs 5 lakh in fine, while those found storing e-cigarettes and other such Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) products will face up to six months in prison and up to Rs 55,000 in fines, or both.