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Report violations of e-cigarette sales ban on portal: Govt to states

The communication from the Union Health Ministry to the states was issued on the same day the Centre sent notices to 15 websites selling e-cigarettes

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Press Trust of India New Delhi

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The Centre has asked states to report on its portal information on the availability of e-cigarettes on online shopping sites and retail shops despite a ban on it since 2019.
The portal will help the Union Health Ministry collate information and take swift action on reported violations, an official source told PTI.
The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Act (PECA) came into force in 2019.
There seems to be a lack of awareness about the portal which was launched in May, an official source said, adding anyone can report violations of the PECA and the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act-2003 on the website.
The communication from the Union Health Ministry to the states was issued on the same day the Centre sent notices to 15 websites selling e-cigarettes, directing them to stop advertisement and sale of the banned products.
Six more websites are on the radar, officials said, adding the ministry is also closely monitoring the advertisement and sale of e-cigarettes on social media and might issue notices to them soon.
"It is informed that the online violations under COTPA-2003 and PECA-2019 may be reported to," the ministry said in its letter to states and Union Territories.
Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, the chief executive of the Voluntary Health Association of India said e-cigarette and similar products with attractive flavouring have been proven to hook the younger generation to nicotine.
"It is worrisome that a banned product is so readily available online. The website launched by the Health Ministry, raising awareness about the banned product as well as elucidating the details of PECA-2019, emboldens the government's strong resolve to prevent this hazardous product from being marketed in India.
"State governments must take similar steps to enforce the ban on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products," Mukhopadhyay said.
Despite heavy penalties and provision of imprisonment, e-cigarettes are reported to be widely available.
Rampant use of e-cigarettes has been observed among the youth, including school children, said Binoy Mathew, the programme manager of the Voluntary Health Association of India.
It thus appears that e-cigarette marketers have illicitly managed to achieve a foothold in the market that has not been completely redressed by the ban, he said.
Mathew welcomed the health ministry's move of launching the website for strict enforcement of the ban.
"The Health Ministry highlighted to states the weak implementation of PECA. The states were directed to review the compliance of the Act and issue necessary instructions for its effective implementation through special drives and random checking in schools and colleges," said Ranjit Singh, a Supreme Court advocate.
In May, the ministry issued a public notice for stricter implementation of the Act, directing all producers, manufacturers, importers, exporters, distributors, advertisers and transporters not to directly or indirectly produce, import, or export e-cigarettes.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Jul 21 2023 | 11:35 AM IST

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