India has announced a ban on the import, sale and production of e-cigarettes as a global backlash against vaping gathers pace.
The ban comes a day after New York became the second US state to forbid flavoured e-cigarettes following a string of vaping-linked deaths.
‘The decision was made keeping in mind the impact that e-cigarettes have on the youth of today,’ India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday.
She added that e-cigarettes were becoming an increasing health risk, as they were being used as a ‘style statement’ and not as a tobacco cessation product.
E-cigarettes do not ‘burn’ but instead heat up a liquid – tasting of everything from bourbon to bubblegum and which usually contains nicotine – that turns into vapour and is inhaled.
The vapour is missing the estimated 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke but does contain a number of substances which could potentially be harmful.
Although few Indians vape at present, the Indian ban also cuts off a vast potential market of 1.3 billion consumers for makers of e-cigarettes.
Tobacco firms have been investing heavily in the technology to compensate for falling demand for cigarettes due to high taxes and public smoking bans, particularly in the West.
In 2018, Altria – the US maker of brands such as Marlboro and Chesterfield – splashed out almost $13 billion on a stake in one of the biggest e-cigarette makers, Juul.
The ban will be imposed through an executive order, which is typically issued in India as an emergency measure when parliament is not in session.
It can lapse if it is not approved when lawmakers convene again in the next session, which will most likely be held in November.
A few Indian states have already banned e-cigarettes, although the restrictions have been ineffective since online sale of vaping products continue.
The national ban comes as New York became the second US state – after Michigan – to ban flavoured e-cigarettes on Tuesday.