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Tamil Nadu govt bans e-cigarettes, users' body to approach judiciary

Gireesh Babu/Chennai 13 Sep 18 | 12:52 PM

e-cigarettes (Photo: Reuters)

Citing health hazards, the Tamil Nadu government has banned the manufacturing, sale distribution and use or possession of e-cigarettes under the category of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). The decision follows the ban of manufacturing and sale of ENDS in at least 6 other states including Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

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Reportedly, a recent government order was issued to prohibit manufacturing, sale, distribution, import and possession of e-cigarettes. According to the government officials, the decision has been taken considering the health hazards as products have heavy metals and nicotine and can even cause burns and explosion.

Association of Vapers India, an organisation representing smokers and vapers in India, have begun protesting the move and are taking legal advice to approach the judiciary against the order. The group recently submitted research papers with the State Health Administration to show that e-cigarettes are up to 95 per cent safer than smoking.

Samrat Chowdhery, director, Association of Vapers India, said, "The Tamil Nadu government has hit a new low in anti-people policy by banning use and possession of e-cigarettes along with their sale. Meanwhile, a far more harmful product, cigarette, continues to be sold freely and according to the national GATS-2 survey, the number of smokers in the state are rising, which the government has failed to curb." 

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"The state government has overlooked credible and vast evidence on the harm reduction potential of e-cigarettes to impose a ban that will have a negative impact on public health", Chowdhery alleged.

The association had earlier filed a petition in a Karnataka court against the ban of e-cigarettes. Chowdhery further said that the market for e-cigarettes is around Rs 400 million in the country. While the market for e-cigarettes in Tamil Nadu is not known, the state has around 8 million smokers. Considering the alternative of e-cigarettes being banned in Tamil Nadu, smokers may go back to smoking tobacco-filled cigarettes, which is more harmful, he alleged.

The hardware of ENDS is mostly imported while the essence of nicotine is produced in India and sold by various companies in states like Gujarat. ITC is one of the major players in e-cigarettes, under the brand EON, while global majors including Philip Morris, Reynolds and Japan Tobacco are also present in the market. 

According to reports, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in August had also called for regulating e-cigarettes including a ban on the indoor use. It is also considered as harmful to children and there have been allegations that the use of e-cigarettes is increasing among the children below 18 years old.

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