India has a major problem with tobacco use. In fact, health experts have predicted that there will be 1.5 million tobacco related deaths in India by 2020 if nothing changes. Unfortunately, India’s lawmakers aren’t making it easy for smokers to quit. They have a zero tolerance policy for electronic cigarettes. Now they are threatening ecig importers and distributors with arrest.
This week, India’s Food and Drug Administration sent out notices 23 importers and distributors threatening three to five years in jail for importing or selling ecigs without proper approval from the Drug Controller General of India.
“As per Rule 122 (E) of Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940 and Rule 1945, every new drug product should be sold in the country with the prior approval of the DCGI. However, import, distribution and sale of e-cigarettes containing nicotine are not approved. Since e-cigarettes are being sold in market without permission, this is contravention of section 18 (b) and 18 (C) of Drugs and Cosmetics Act. Hence, its sale is illegal,” the FDA notice said.
Harshadeep Kamble, FDA Commissioner in India, said the government is taking an aggressive approach to stop ecigarettes. “Permission to sale lozenges, gums containing nicotine less than 2mg are already given by the DCGI. Nicotine products above 2mg are sold only with prescriptions from registered medical practitioners,” Kamble said.
He believes ecigs are posing a major threat to college students in particular and because there is no regulatory framework in place to assure quality control, he wants to see the ecig industry halted immediately.
Ultimately, India’s FDA is warning people not to use ecigs at all. In fact, they seem to be focusing more on discouraging vaping than smoking. But why? Ecigs are tobacco free and they are a proven harm reduction strategy that has helped thousands of smokers kick the habit.27
Won’t banning ecigs only hurt the country’s health more in the long run?