On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Shri. Jagat Prakash Nadda, demanded for stopping the sale or import of any e-cigarettes or heat-not-burn tobacco. These devices are developed by the companies like Philip Morris International Inc were planning to launch in the country.
There are already many laws in India against the tobacco use, but still there is large amount of tobacco abusers in India.
The government says though there are laws for the tobacco sale and use, almost 9,00,000 people die every year.
Even after such death rate, there are 106 million adult smokers in the country.
According to World Health Organization(W.H.O), India ranks second in the world for the number of adult smokers, after China being the first.
In an advisory to state governments, the health ministry said such devices were a “great health risk” .
And it was possible that children and non-smokers using such products could switch to cigarettes once they get addicted to nicotine.
The government took a position on such products with tobacco giant Philip Morris planning to launch its iQOS smoking device in India.
Reuters reported in June that Philip Morris was working towards achieving iQOS’s acceptability as a reduced risk product in the country.
Philip Morris says the sleek, pen-like iQOS heats but does not burn tobacco, producing a nicotine-containing vapor rather than smoke. And making it less harmful than conventional cigarettes. The company wants to one day stop selling cigarettes altogether.
The health ministry asked the states to “ensure” that electronic nicotine delivery systems including e-cigarettes – devices. This devices use a nicotine-laced liquid – as well as heat-not-burn devices. Therefore these are not sold, manufactured, imported or advertised.
Such devices, the ministry said, “are a great health risk to public at large, especially to children, adolescents, pregnant women and
women of reproductive age”.
Philip Morris did not respond to Reuters queries. ITC , India’s leading cigarette maker which also sells e-cigarettes, also did not respond.
A senior health official said the government was “sending a strong message” about how such products were harmful for the public.
Last year, a New Delhi resident filed a public interest litigation in the Delhi High Court calling for regulation of e-cigarettes.
The court last week asked the federal health ministry to say when it would announce regulatory measures for such devices.
“The case was filed to bring out the absolute absence of regulation. It is now critical that stringent implementation measures are taken,”
said Bhuvanesh Sehgal, a Delhi-based lawyer who argued in the case.
In recent years, the Indian government has intensified its tobacco-control efforts, raising cigarette taxes, ordering companies to print
bigger health warnings on packs and introducing a quit-smoking helpline.