HC raps Centre for delaying implementation of rules on e-cigarettes

Court asks government to indicate time frame to implement regulatory measures to tackle the ‘new emerging threat’

August 22, 2018 01:50 am | Updated 11:43 am IST - New Delhi

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, 17/06/2012: An "e-cigarette" on display in Thiruvananthapuram.
Photo: S. Mahinsha 17-06-2012

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, 17/06/2012: An "e-cigarette" on display in Thiruvananthapuram. Photo: S. Mahinsha 17-06-2012

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday took strong exception to Centre’s indecision in coming up with regulatory measures on manufacture, import, sale and any kind of trade in e-cigarettes in the country.

A Bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V. Kameswar Rao asked the Centre to indicate in an affidavit a time frame within which the regulatory measures will be brought into place and ‘enforced in letter and spirit’.

“What does the Union of India proposes to do? Some States have guidelines now,” the Bench said adding, “This is an important issue particularly with schools and educational institutions”.

The High Court was hearing a petition filed in public interest by anti-tobacco activist Seema Sehgal, through advocate Bhuvanesh Sehgal, seeking to ban or regulate the sale and use of e-cigarettes.

Though there are no specific guidelines to deal with new emerging threats such as e-cigarettes several State governments and Union Territories have taken steps to prohibit it, the plea said.

Unapproved drugs

Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh have declared e-cigarettes as an unapproved drug under the Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1954 and have commenced prosecutions of its sellers.

Karnataka, Kerala, Mizoram, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have also issued orders banning the manufacture, distribution and sale of e-cigarettes as unapproved drugs.

Young smokers

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) had told the High Court that the government was in the process of issuing guidelines on e-cigarettes, dubbing it as a “new emerging threat”.

Terming e-cigarettes or Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) as “addictive” and targeted towards young smokers, the Ministry had said the decision was made in the larger interest of public health.

The Ministry said the flavouring agent in e-cigarettes is targeted towards attracting youth to a “new nicotine delivery product”.

“The glamorising marketing techniques of ENDS as less harmful products purely mimics the marketing techniques used by the cigarette industry for slim or low tar cigarettes and are youth-oriented,” the Ministry added.

Chief constituent

The Ministry submitted that the chief constituent of e-cigarettes is nicotine, which is addictive.

“It also has a high level of toxicity and can lead to development of cardiovascular diseases, lung diseases, have adverse affect on the immune and gastrointestinal systems, risk of miscarriage in pregnant women etc.,” the Ministry said.

“In the larger interest of the public health, [Ministry] is in the process of issuing appropriate guidelines or advisory for regulating, including banning the manufacture, import, sale and any kind of trade in nicotine…or any device such as ENDS or e-cigarettes that enables its use,” the affidavit said.

The court posted the case for further hearing on September 7.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.