New Delhi: Nicotine addiction through e-cigarettes among young people may lead them to try conventional tobacco products, the Delhi High Court has been informed by the GoI health ministry, which said it was considering a ban on the item.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare also told the court that though there are no specific guidelines to deal with new emerging threats such as Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) or e-cigarettes (ECs), several states and Union territories have taken steps to prohibit them.
“The chief constituent of e-cigarettes/ENDS is nicotine, which is addictive. It also has a high level of toxicity and can lead to development of cardiovascular and lung diseases, have adverse effect on the immune and gastrointestinal systems, put a risk of miscarriage in pregnant women, etc,” the ministry said in its affidavit.
It said that in the larger interest of public health, the ministry is also “in the process of issuing appropriate guidelines or advisory for regulating, including banning the manufacture, import, sale and any kind of trade in nicotine (other than therapeutic use approved and prescribed under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act), or any device such as ENDS or E-cigarettes that enabled its use”.
E-cigarettes are hand-held devices which help to create the feeling of tobacco smoking. Various makers of the device say that the e-liquid inside the device heats up when activated and creates an aerosolised vapour which provides a flavour similar to tobacco.
The affidavit was filed before a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar which was hearing a plea seeking to regulate the sale and consumption of e-cigarettes.
“Nicotine addiction through e-cigarettes among young people may lead to its consumer to try conventional tobacco products and hence is a gateway product,” the ministry said.
It said that states including Punjab and Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh have declared e-cigarettes as an unapproved drug under the Act and have commenced prosecution of sellers of such products.
It also said that states such as Karnataka, Kerala, Mizoram, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have also issued necessary orders banning the manufacture, distribution and sale of e-cigarettes as unapproved drugs under the law.
The court was hearing a plea filed by Seema Sehgal, a homemaker, who has sought directions to the governments to formulate a policy and guidelines for advertisements and regulation of sale, production and supply of the product.
The plea has sought directions to authorities to inform the public about the harmful effects of the e-cigarettes. It has claimed that the e-liquids comprise of a solution of liquid nicotine.
The petition has said that the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003, which governs the tobacco consumption law, does not provide for the use of e-liquids containing nicotine.