India’s health ministry calls for stopping sales of e-cigarettes, smoking devices

Vastavam web: India’s health ministry called on Tuesday for stopping the sale or import of electronic cigarettes and heat-not-burn tobacco devices that companies like Philip Morris International Inc were planning to launch in the country. India has stringent laws to deter tobacco use, which the government says kills more than 900,000 people every year. But the country still has 106 million adult smokers, second only to China according to the World Health Organization.

The government took a position on such products with tobacco giant Philip Morris planning to launch its iQOS smoking device in India. Reuters reported in June that Philip Morris was working towards achieving iQOS’s acceptability as a reduced risk product in the country. The health ministry asked Indian states to “ensure” that electronic nicotine delivery systems including e-cigarettes – devices which use a nicotine-laced liquid – as well as heat-not-burn devices are not sold, manufactured, imported or advertised.

Such devices, the ministry said, “are a great health risk to public at large, especially to children, adolescents, pregnant women and women of reproductive age”. A senior health official said the government was “sending a strong message” about how such products were harmful for the public. Last year, a New Delhi resident filed a public interest litigation in the Delhi High Court calling for regulation of e-cigarettes. The court last week asked the federal health ministry to say when it would announce regulatory measures for such devices. In recent years, the Indian government has intensified its tobacco-control efforts, raising cigarette taxes, ordering companies to print bigger health warnings on packs and introducing a quit-smoking helpline.