Lok Sabha passes bill to ban e-cigarettes
Amid a heated debate, the Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed a bill that aims to ban electronic cigarettes even as health minister Harsh Vardhan said such a measure was necessary to protect the youth from a new intoxication being promoted by companies as a “fashion”.
The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Bill, 2019, seeks to replace an ordinance issued on September 18.
The statutory resolution moved by opposition members to oppose the ordinance was defeated by a voice vote. The House also rejected several amendments moved by opposition members.
Speaking on the bill, Vardhan argued that the lack of ban on tobacco cannot be the justification for “introducing new addiction”.
To promote e-cigarettes vaping was marketed as fashionable to influence youngsters, which will eventually lead them to addiction of intoxicant substance, so the ban was necessary, he said.
Most parties, including opposition parties, supported the bill but questioned the government’s decision to adopt the ordinance route for the legislation.The debate also changed course in the House, turning into an e-cigarettes vs cigarettes debate.
Bahujan Samaj Party’s Ritesh Pandey, said, “This bill specifically looks to ban the marketing and use of e-cigarettes. Though these are dangerous, it is wise to see that there are other products that are more harmful.”
Saugata Roy of the Trinamool Congress said, “The government should not have resorted to the ordinance route. My party is against smoking, drinking as these are health hazards. E-cigarettes are mostly imported, but the minister is ignoring 99.98% of scope of smoking and only targeting e-cigarettes. The minister is only touching the hinge of problem.”
Vardhan, while replying to these contentions, said, “The whole country has been fighting the tobacco menace since 1997, and our sustained efforts resulted in 16% decline in tobacco use between 2009 and 2016. India is witnessing a steady decline in tobacco prevalence.”
He also added that the Centre increased size of pictorial warning on tobacco products, among taking other steps.
E-cigarettes that are technically called the Electronic Nicotine Delivery Devices (ENDS) is increasingly being seen by smokers as a harm reduction device, especially among the youth, with at least 900% growth in usage between 2011 and 2016 in the United States of America, making the government to take measures to curb its use in India.