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Union Health Secretary directs State govts to conduct monthly inspections on availability of e-cigarettes in schools, colleges

Priyanka Sharma | Updated: Oct 04, 2019 19:29 IST

By Priyanka Sharma
New Delhi [India], Oct 4 (ANI): The Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan has written to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and State governments to conduct monthly drive and inspect the availability and usage of e-cigarettes in educational institutions.
In a letter to the state government, a copy of which is with ANI, Sudan had stated, "This is to inform that the Central government has prohibited electronic cigarettes through promulgation of 'The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage, and advertisement) ordinance 2019."
"It is requested that necessary instructions be taken by all the concerned departments. They are directed to take necessary measures to implement the provisions of the Ordinance. It is also requested that a month-long drive may also be undertaken to ensure the implementation of the provisions of the ordinance," the letter read.
Talking to ANI, Sudan said: "Now that the government has banned e-cigarettes, we have to be alert. We have to see that e-cigarettes are not available among school and especially college students. We have written to MHRD and state governments asking them to direct all educational departments and institutions to make a monthly drive to check the availability of electronic cigarettes if any. It is a multi-sectoral effort and all the departments have to work together."
The ban on e-cigarettes includes the strict prohibition on production, import, distribution, sale, and use of electronic cigarettes along with imprisonment and penalty for violators.
ENDS or e-cigarettes are battery-powered devices used to smoke or "vape", a flavoured solution containing nicotine, an addictive chemical found in cigarettes which are harmful to health.
Last month ANI had reported that in a Cabinet briefing, Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitaraman declared a ban on e-cigarettes. "Its impact is adverse on the youth of today. The data which we have of the United States indicates that there is 77.8 per cent growth of e-cigarettes amongst school students from class 10th to 12th. About 48.5% of children studying in middle school were victim of e-cigarettes."
"Even science-based journals have shown that since 2011-2015, there was 900% growth of e-cigarettes market in the United States," she said.
The draft ordinance, which was proposed by the health ministry, stated maximum imprisonment of up to one year along with a penalty of Rs 1 lakh against first-time violators.
The ministry had also recommended a maximum of up to three years of jail and a penalty of Rs 5 lakh for habitual offenders.
This draft ordinance was later sent to the Group of Minister's (GOM) to examine its various aspects.
GOM had discussed with the health ministry: "At present, there is no legislation available to deal with these hazardous products. On provisions related to search and seizure operations, it has been further discussed that there will be an authorised officer to keep a vigil on sale, distribution and usage of e-cigarette."
"Authorised officer can conduct search and seizures. S/he has the power to seize property, stocks, records in offences," as discussed by GOM.
A few months back, the Indian Council of Market Research released a white paper based on over 200 international studies demanding the complete ban on e-cigarettes. It stated that nicotine is considered one of the most addictive substances making a potential risk of a person being addicted to it throughout life.
In the white paper, the ICMR said that e-cigarettes adversely affect the cardiovascular system, impairs respiratory immune cell function and airways in a way similar to cigarette smoking and is responsible for severe respiratory diseases. (ANI)