India’s decision to ban e-cigarettes is an important step in protecting youth from nicotine addiction and progression to smoking

The Union welcomes the decision by the Ministry of Health of India to ban the production, import and sale of e-cigarettes as a timely measure to protect its youth from the dangers of nicotine addiction and cigarette smoking.

The global public health community has been alerted to the recent rapid rise in e-cigarette use among youth in several countries including the United States. Accumulating evidence indicates that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to go on to smoking conventional cigarettes.

The industry is aggressively marketing e-cigarettes with appealing flavours such as cotton candy and gummi bear and by campaigning forcefully on social media. There is evidence that the industry is now actively seeking to expand into the “untapped” markets of lower- and middle-income countries including India.

“E-cigarettes have the potential to undermine the implementation of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in India by addicting young people and re-normalising smoking,” said Dr Rana J Singh, Deputy Regional Director for South East Asia at The Union. “This ban of e-cigarettes will ensure that the progress made by the implementation of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act and the expansion of the National Tobacco Control Programme will continue.”

Recognising the threat presented by e-cigarettes to public health in India, The Union and partners began collaborating with Indian Ministries of Health at the national and state levels in 2013 to support the formulation of an e-cigarette position, based on evidence of the products’ impact on health. Fifteen states banned e-cigarettes at the state level and were successful in resisting pressure from the tobacco industry and its front groups, which has led to the ordinance for the nation-wide ban by the government of India.

“The Union joins the World Health Organization in strongly supporting the Ministry of Health’s decision to ban e-cigarettes in India,” said Dr Gan Quan, Director of Tobacco Control at The Union. “It is essential to protect the youth from nicotine addiction and the harms of smoking.”

The Union has also been working closely with the Government of India, state governments, civil society and academic institutes since 2007 to strengthen tobacco control policies and programmes to curb the tobacco epidemic in the country.