The ban on electronic cigarettes has been challenged in a court in Kolkata, marking the start of the first legal battle against the anti-vaping decision.
The government banned the sale, import and manufacture of e-cigarettes this month and warned of an “epidemic” among young people. The move could dash the expansion plans of companies such as Juul Labs and Philip Morris International in the country. Two separate challenges have been filed to the high court in Kolkata, by e-cigarette importer Plume Vapour and another company named Woke Vapours, according to court listing records publicly available online.
A senior health ministry official in New Delhi said the government had been notified of the cases, which were heard by the court on Thursday and will next be heard on Monday. “We are confident of defending our decision,” the official added. Further details about the challenges were not immediately available.
More than 900,000 people die each year due to tobacco-related illnesses in India, home to about 1.3 billion people. The government argues the e-cigarette ban is essential to protect people, especially young people, saying vaping can lead to nicotine addiction and push users towards consuming tobacco. Pro-vaping groups, however, say vaping is less harmful than smoking tobacco. “The ban raises questions of constitutional law and is mindless, arbitrary and excessive,” said Abhishek Manu Singhvi, one of the most prominent lawyers, who is representing Plume Vapour.