India's e-cigarettes ban hasn't stopped vaping⁠ — it only drove out Juul and Vape

As part of nationwidw protest many volunteers under the aegis of Association of Vapers India (AVI) gathered at Freedom park in Bengaluru to protest the ban on E-Cigarettes on Saturday 28th September 2019.BCCL

  • Eight months since, despite the ban, people are able to buy e-cigarettes from any paan shop. If not, they can always go on the internet and buy them.
  • However, since formal players like Juul or Vape are kicked out of the country, what these young vapers find are products imported from other countries like China — making it cheaper.
  • Such products don’t have quality standards.
Rahul (name changed), a 15 year old boy wanted to try smoking but he was afraid it would damage his lungs. So he thought of giving e-cigarettes and vaping a try. But there was a slight problem — India had just banned the sale of e-cigarettes to protect the health of thousands of others like him.

He called his best friend Sonu (name changed), also 15, who assured him getting e-cigarettes or any vaping devices is no “big a deal” and the ban “doesn’t matter”.He gave at least three suggestions of places where Rahul can find e-cigarettes easily.

One of the most commonly used vaping devices in India. Business Insider India.


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Teenagers like Rahul and Sonu were the reasons why India imposed a ban on e-cigarettes in September last year. Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s finance minister who announced the ban, said “we immediately took a decision so that the health of our citizens, of our young, is not thrown to a risk.”

Eight months since, despite the ban, people are able to buy e-cigarettes from any paan shop. If not, they can always go on the internet and buy them.

However, since formal players like Juul or Vape are kicked out of the country, what these young vapers find are products imported from other countries like China — making it cheaper. Such products don’t have quality standards. Usually, anybody can buy an e-cigarettes between ₹50 and ₹700. Whereas, a vaping device is slightly costlier and can foot a bill of ₹600 and can go as high as ₹6,000.

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A 23-year old seller, who spoke to Business Insider on the condition of anonymity, says he buys his stock from Mumbai and sells it on Instagram. He usually uses the standard Indian postal services to courier the order to his customers.
A screenshot of an Instagram page selling vaping device. Business Insider India
“I have been in the business for three years now. The only thing that the ban has changed is branded products are out of the market. I can still sell chinese products which I usually buy from a black market in Mumbai.”

Several countries which banned e-cigarettes including Mexico, Brazil and Thailand saw a booming black market — making it difficult for the government to regulate the sale of these products, according to Samrat Chowdhery, Association of Vapers India.

“It is difficult to enforce regulations as Nicotine is available in all other forms. Formal players making e cigarettes are exiting the market. Once black market industry gains a footover, it will be impossible to get control over it. The government missed a golden opportunity to regulate these products,” he told Business Insider.
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As part of nationwidw protest many volunteers under the aegis of Association of Vapers India (AVI) gathered at Freedom park in Bengaluru to protest the ban on E-Cigarettes on Saturday 28th September 2019.BCCL

Chowdhery has been pressing to develop a formal market for e-cigarettes ever since it was banned. He believes a formal market can build protection for kids and can monitor sales at certain age levels.

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