The government, which wants to ban e-cigarettes, is in a dilemma over the legal provisions it will have to use to stub out the electronic smoking alternative, known to have health risks. The government is faced with a conundrum: whether to ban e-cigarettes under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, or the Poisons Act 1919. “COTPA doesn’t have a provision to ban. Under various sections of the Act, tobacco products can only be regulated. However, there is a provision under the Act to prohibit any item which imitates cigarettes,” said a senior health ministry official.
Some states including Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana, Kerala, Mizoram, Karnataka, and Jammu and Kashmir have already banned e-cigarettes as an unapproved drug. While all of them have banned it under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, some have added the Poisons Act, 1919. “Nicotine has been declared as a lethal and hazardous substance under the Environment (Protection) Act and Insecticide Act. “Its only permitted use for human consumption is upto the level of 2 mg in the form of chewing gum or lozenges under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act,” said Arun Kumar Jha, Economic Advisor to the Union health ministry.
Earlier, three sub-committees formed to examine the legal, advocacy and health aspects of e-cigarettes had strongly recommended ban on them stating they have cancer- causing properties. “The sub-committee to examine the legal aspects of the issue held another round of meeting on Tuesday and discussed the various modalities for taking stern action against electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS),” Jha said.
An e-cigarette or an ENDS is a smoking battery-powered device that uses liquid nicotine, propylene glycol, water, glycerin and flavour to produce a sense of smoking a real cigarette for the user. “Though companies claim that e-cigarettes help give up smoking, but in reality they help initiate cigarette smoking as they deliver nicotine in an attractive way and attract youth,” Jha said. According to a WHO report, e-cigarettes emit nicotine, the addictive component in tobacco products. Experts say e-cigarettes contain liquid nicotine, which is not a registered drug in India.