09:27 GMT31 October 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): The Indian government has approved the introduction of a complete ban on e-cigarettes, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday following a cabinet meeting.

    "The Union Cabinet has given approval to ban e-cigarettes. It means the production, manufacturing, import/export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertising related to e-cigarettes are banned", Sitharaman was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times newspaper.

    The decision was taken “so that we (the government) could take early action with regard to the health of people”, Sitharaman added.

    She added that the relevant bill will be presented to parliament in the winter session.

    In August, the Indian Health Ministry proposed that the government outlaw the production and import of e-cigarettes and make it an offense punishable by imprisonment. The ministry's draft ordinance provided for a year-long jail sentence and a 100,000-rupee ($1,380) fine for first-time offenders and a three-year sentence and 500,000 rupees fine for repeat offenders.

    E-cigarettes do not burn tobacco but use a heating element to vaporise liquid nicotine which the user then inhales. This is what differentiates it from a combustible cigarette.

    The government said that it decided to ban e-cigarettes because of its easy availability and wrong public messaging that it helps smokers kick combustible cigarettes.

    Each year, over 900,000 people die of tobacco-related illnesses. India currently has 106 million adult smokers, second only to China in the world, making it a lucrative market for tobacco manufacturing firms.

    Before announcing the ban, the central Health Ministry sent an advisory to all states and union territories to ban all forms of electronic nicotine delivery systems.

    The Indian Council of Medical Research also warned that e-cigarettes are equally addictive and harmful.

    Use of e-cigarettes can cause DNA damage, carcinogenic, cellular, molecular and immunological toxicity, respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurological disorders, and adversely impact foetal development and pregnancy.

    Tags:
    youth, harm, habits, Nirmala Sitharaman, finance minister, e-cigarettes, bans, Cabinet, India
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