The act aims to curb the bad effects of e-cigarettes. E-Cigarettes are not covered under Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003. So, a new law was needed.
In 2018, the centre issued an advisory asking the states not to approve any new e-cigarettes and restrict the sale of the existing one. In 2019, ICMR recommended ban on e-cigarettes following which an ordinance was passed in 2019 banning it. However, around 15 states have already banned e-cigarettes.
These are the battery-powered vaporizer that heats nicotine liquid containing vegetable glycerine, Propylene glycol (forms vapor) along with other materials like Formaldehyde, Diacetyl, Benzene, etc. They come in different tastes and colors to attract the young population. These include all forms of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), Heat Not Burn Products, e-hookah, etc.
According to ICMR, use of e-cigarettes can damage DNA, cause cardiovascular and neurological disorders, has adverse impact on foetal development, etc.
Currently, cigarettes and tobacco products are regulated under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply, and Distribution) Act, 2003 or COTPA, 2003. The act bans public smoking except in special smoking areas. It also bans advertising through mass media, but in some conditions, advertising is allowed like packaging ads and ads of places where such products are sold can be displayed on small packets. However, packaging has to be simple and 85% of the packaging area should be covered with the warning ‘Smoking Kills and Tobacco Causes Mouth Cancer’. Also, the content of nicotine and Tobacco has to be revealed, both in English and Hindi. Though sale to minor is prohibited, there is no restriction on sale through internet or sale in small packages.
Though ENDS is supported on the context that it does not contain tobacco or helps leave smoking habit but according to WHO it has following harms:
The act will protect the youths in India from the ill-effects of consumption of e-cigarettes or ENDS and also decrease health burden.
The blanket ban is supported because this industry is new in India. Also, only 0.03% of people use ENDS in India. So it will be easy to control the industry without many ramifications. Also, it is banned in 30 countries. India is a party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which came into force in 2005, and it called for the ban on ENDS.
Tobacco products, on the other hand, cannot be banned fully as many farmers and others’ livelihood is dependent on the cultivation of tobacco. Tobacco is a well-developed industry in India. So, it is regulated. For e-cigarettes, various persuasive steps need to be taken, like applying nudge behavior policy (giving positive reinforcement to leave ENDS).