New Delhi: The commerce ministry has asked its health counterpart to frame law banning manufacture and sale of e-cigarettes in the country as in the absence of a domestic legislation, it would not be possible to put a blanket ban on its imports, sources said. The health ministry had asked the commerce ministry to issue a notification banning import of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), including e-cigarettes and flavoured hookah.
"Without banning domestic sale and manufacturing of ENDS through a law, it will be an infringement of global trade norms to put an import ban," one of the sources said.
In August last year, the health ministry had issued an advisory to all states and Union Territories (UTs) to stop the manufacture, sale and import of ENDS after the Delhi High Court took strong exception to the Centre for delay in coming up with appropriate measures to tackle the "new emerging threat" of e-cigarettes in the country.
In March, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization also directed all drug controllers in states and UTs not to allow the manufacture, sale, import and advertisement of ENDS, including e-cigarettes and flavoured hookah, in their jurisdictions.
Over 1,000 doctors from 24 states and three UTs in April this year urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to enforce a ban on ENDS before it becomes an "epidemic in India", especially among the youth.
Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are devices that do not burn or use tobacco leaves but instead vaporise a solution, which a user then inhales. The main constituents of the solution, in addition to nicotine, are propylene glycol (with or without glycerol and flavouring agents).
In its general advisory to public in August 2018, the health ministry had said that as per the World Health Organization report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2017, governments of 30 countries like Mauritius, Australia, Singapore, Korea (Democratic People's Republic), Sri Lanka, Thailand, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, Bahrain, Iran, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, have already banned.