Jharkhand becomes the first state to implement ban on e-cigarettes after government advisory notice in India


  • India has the second largest population of smokers in the world, despite which the Indian health ministry is calling for a ban on all Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS).
  • Jharkhand, a state in eastern India, has become the first state to actually implement the ban.
  • The rationale behind the ban is that e-cigarettes do more harm than good by getting more people addicted to nicotine.
  • The ban will apply across the board on the sale, import, manufacture and advertising of e-cigarettes.
The Indian government called for a ban on all Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) in August last year, but since it was only an advisory notice — individual states in the country didn’t necessarily have to abide by it.

But the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand finally took the plunge and announced that it is banning the sale and usage of e-cigarettes.

"E-cigarettes are the new method of nicotine use. It affects the embryos in pregnant woman. It also causes mental problem. The sale, distribution, advertisement, import and usage of e-cigarettes have been banned with immediate effect."

Notification issued by the Jharkhand's health department

That being said, prior to the government's advisory notice, bans were already in place across various Indian states including Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Maharashtra, Mizoram, and Kerala. While some states have taken the route of banning ENDS under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, others have placed it in the Poisons Act of 1919.

While the generally accepted notion is that electronic cigarettes are less harmful than normal cigarettes, the Indian government has taken a stand that these devices could potentially spark a new generation of smokers. Their take is that children and non-smokers are using these devices and could switch to smoking actual cigarettes once they’re addicted to nicotine.

On that basis, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has called for a ban on the sale and import of electronic cigarettes and heat-not-burn (HNB) tobacco devices altogether. That means no local manufacturing, no retail sales, no imports and no advertising of any Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS).

E-cigarettes: Good or bad?

India has one of the highest populations of smokers in the world. According to the World Health Organisation, there are nearly 106 million adult smokers in the country which makes India second only to China.

While the non cancer-causing tobacco smoke is cut from the equation with e-cigarettes, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine claim, that’s about all they’re good for. The incidence of smoking may have dropped but vaping has increased and the crux of the issue lies in the many unknowns associated with the phenomenon.

When cigarettes first made an appearance, their adverse effects, which are rather obvious now, took a few years to come into the light. And even though e-cigarettes don’t burn tobacco, they still contain and emit potentially toxic substances.

On the other hand, experts argue that while nicotine in itself is undoubtedly addictive, its actual effects could be as harmless as caffeine. Mike Russel, a British psychiatrist, very aptly said, ‘Smoke for the nicotine but die from the tar.’

India’s rules and regulations are already so lax that underage individuals have no problems obtaining normal cigarettes, making access to e-cigarettes even easier.

The US is already engaged in its own battle against the Juul, an e-cigarette that looks like a USB drive and contains nicotine equivalent to one pack of cigarettes. With its soaring popularity and easy access to underage kids, the brand is used a verb as ‘juuling’ instead of ‘vaping’.

The announcement comes at a time when Philip Morris International, known for their Marlboro cigarettes, was going to launch their iQOS smoking devices in the country. The iQOS devices produce a nicotine-containing vapour rather than actually burning tobacco, pegging them as a ‘reduced risk’ product.

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