The Indian cabinet has banned the production and import of electronic cigarettes on Wednesday. It is the third country that bans the products, Brazil and Thailand preceded India. The ban would be in the public interest and should prevent e-cigarettes from leading to an "epidemic" among children and young adults.
The ban can still be declared invalid later this year by lawmakers, who will probably meet again in November.
The measure is part of the policy to ban tobacco products in the country. According to Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman, the e-cigarette is an increasing health risk. According to the minister, the e-cigarette is no longer presented as a means to quit smoking, but as a "fashion statement".
Tobacco producers, on the other hand, bet on these products in order to increase the turnover, because increasingly strict rules apply to ordinary cigarettes. British American Tobacco, for example, recently announced that it wanted to increase the turnover of this product group by 2024 to £ 5 billion (€ 5.6 billion). Many companies hope that the e-cigarette will become a category with less strict regulations.
A large manufacturer such as Philip Morris International, known from Marlboro and Chesterfield, among others, is also investing in expansion in the e-cigarette market and was planning to enter the Indian market. The latter also applies to Juul Labs, a manufacturer that only produces e-cigarettes and vapers. The measure therefore comes as a nasty surprise for these companies.
900,000 tobacco deaths per year
With 106 million smokers worldwide, India is in second place among countries with the most smokers. This makes it an interesting country for tobacco producers. Every year, 900,000 people in India die from diseases associated with tobacco use.
Last June, San Francisco was the first American city to ban the sale of e-cigarettes. This prohibition was intended to protect "a new generation of children" in the city from addiction to nicotine.
Liquid composition is usually unknown
A liquid is electrically evaporated in electronic cigarettes. The composition of this liquid is usually not fully disclosed. Nicotine is often added to the liquid.
Proponents of the e-cigarette say that this product is less harmful than the traditional cigarette, while opponents warn that little is known about the long-term health effects. Various health complaints have since been linked to the use of e-cigarettes.
Correction: First we wrote that India was the first country to ban e-cigarettes. That was incorrect, Thailand and Brazil preceded India. It has since been adjusted.