Centre approves ordinance to ban production, import of e-cigarettes
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved an ordinance for banning production, import, distribution and sale of electronic cigarettes and proposed a jail term for those violating the provisions, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.
First-time violators will face a jail term of up to one year and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. For subsequent offences, a jail term of up to three years or a fine of Rs 5 lakh, or both have been prescribed.
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 a health risk to people, especially the youth.
Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan said a debate on whether e- cigarettes and similar products are more harmful than tobacco cigarettes was of little help.
"Why are we debating whether it is more or less harmful...it is a good move to ban it," she told reporters at the cabinet briefing here.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said it is a preventive step and it is always better to prevent health risks at a later stage of life.
The ordinance will come into force once approved by the President. It will be converted into a bill in the next session of Parliament.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan is out of the country and was not present in Wednesday's Cabinet meeting.
Cigarette stocks gained up to 5.5 percent on Wednesday after the Cabinet approved an ordinance for banning production, import, distribution and sale of electronic cigarettes.
Shares of Godfrey Phillips India jumped 5.55 percent and Golden Tobacco climbed 4.69 percent on the BSE.
Likewise, VST Industries rose by 3.43 percent and ITC gained 1.03 percent.
The Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation in February had written to all state drug controllers, saying they should not allow sale, online sale, manufacture, distribution, trade, import or advertisement of ENDS like e-cigarettes and e-hookah with nicotine flavour.
(Edited by Suman Singh)