The Union Government on Wednesday has the banned the manufacturing, production, import, export, sale and advertisement of e-cigarettes. The first offenders may also receive upto one year in prison and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. According to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the decision was taken in the wake of dramatic rise in the use of e-cigarettes in the country among the youth and children.
Also, the owners of the existing stocks of e-cigarettes in India must deposit them with the nearby police station.
Now, let’s see, what is an e-cigarette and how does it work?
Electronic cigarettes are battery powered vaporizers that stimulate smoking; it is made up of a mouthpiece, a cartridge, a heating element, a battery and a microprocessor. The atomizer heats and vaporizes the liquid solution and a wicking material carries the vapor to the mouthpiece through which it is inhaled. They come in various shapes and sizes and most of them also have an LED light.
The liquid used in e-cigarettes contain propylene glycol, glycerine, nicotine, additives, and various amounts contaminants. There are around 8,000 flavors available in the market. The e –cigarettes gained immediate popularity due to its easy availability, variety in flavours and attractive advertisements.
E-cigarettes contain nicotine along with other additives and flavours which pose additional health risks. It contains toxic chemicals and dangerous metal particles may get inhaled by the user.
Due to this many countries have banned the usage of e-cigarettes. The government claims that the attractive packaging and advertisements induces teenagers towards the use of nicotine.
Although, the ban of e-cigarettes was a rightful decision made by the government India, it faced huge backlash too as the traditional cigarettes are still not banned. Many took it to social media to express their disappointment over not banning of the regular cigarettes.
Some even speculated there to be a hidden agenda of benefitting the cigarette manufacturers and tobacco farmers.
Well, let’s analyze why it is hard for the government to ban the traditional cigarettes
It is true to some extent that the government earns huge revenue from the taxes imposed on the regular cigarettes but the government also spends huge amount of money on the treatment of diseases arising due to the consumption of tobacco as most of the patients suffering from the diseases caused by the tobacco consumption prefer treatment in the government hospital.
But, it is not true that the Modi government has banned e-cigarettes because of the pressure received from the traditional cigarette manufacturers as the government has earlier taken harsh decisions which were not liked by them.
On the other hand, the tobacco industry does not only consist of the manufacturers but also the tobacco farmers and the beedi industry. As the livelihood of hundreds of tobacco farmers and beedi workers fall at stake, the decision of banning of traditional cigarettes becomes difficult for the government.
Sources claim that, recently Bharatiya Kisan Union had requested the government to impose ban on e-cigarettes. The letter was sent to Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal stating that if the e-cigarettes are not banned the tobacco farmers will be in trouble.
BKU also said that the extraction of nicotine is done outside India using the tobacco which is grown in India and the raw material used in the production of e-cigarette is a formulation of tobacco dust and no fresh tobacco is used in the extraction of nicotine.
That is not it, it is also said that the use of traditional cigarettes are coming down due to the popularity of e-cigarettes and many teenagers prefer e-cigarettes over traditional ones.
Also imposing of high taxes on e-cigarettes wouldn’t make much of a difference on the usage as the imposition of high taxes has not made any difference in the sale and usage of regular cigarettes.
Not to forget, banning of the traditional cigarettes may also trigger massive protest by tobacco farmers, beedi workers and cigarette manufacturers.
Considering all the facts the decision of banning e-cigarettes was a good move by the government as delaying it would have caused serious trouble in the future.