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3-min read

India to Term E-cigarettes as Drug And Ban Them; Here Are Other Countries And Their Stands on E-cigarette Use

Recognising their harmful effects, the Health Ministry has decided to ban the nicotine inhalers that have gained popularity among smokers in recent years. Incidentally, some states have already banned e-cigarettes as an unapproved drug.

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Updated:July 3, 2019, 5:06 PM IST
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India to Term E-cigarettes as Drug And Ban Them; Here Are Other Countries And Their Stands on E-cigarette Use
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New Delhi: The Ministry of Health, Government of India, has come to the conclusion that e-cigarettes and devices of similar nature will be classified as a 'drug' in India under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and subsequently should be banned.

Recognising their harmful effects, the Health Ministry has decided to ban the nicotine inhalers that have gained popularity among smokers in recent years. Incidentally, some states, including Punjab, Haryana, Kerala, Mizoram, Karnataka, and Jammu and Kashmir, have already banned e-cigarettes as an unapproved drug.

The decision comes close at the heels of a study which too has highlighted the risks of smoking e-cigarettes. Often used as an alternative to traditional smoking, the study, published in the journal iScience found that e-cigarettes produce a stress response in neural stem cells, which are critical cells in the brain.

This is, however, not the first time that a decision to ban e-cigarettes have been made. In March of 2019, the Delhi High Court stayed the government's efforts to ban e-cigarettes. According to the India’s Trade Ministry, there is no legal basis to ban imports of the device and the government’s possible decision to classify it as an unapproved drug could become the necessary legal basis to do so.

Notably, e-cigarettes are devices that heat a liquid (containing nicotine and other flavouring agents) into aerosol that the users inhale.

Even as India gets ready to effectively ban the e-cigarette, its regulation across other nations are varied.

E-cigarettes are illegal in Japan, forcing the market to use heat-not-burn tobacco products for cigarette alternatives, while other places have introduced strict restrictions and in places like UK, they have licensed devices as medicines.

However, no new vaping devices have been granted a medical license that is commercially sold or available by prescription in the UK since February 2018.

The legal status of e-cigarettes is currently pending in many countries. Many countries such as Brazil, Singapore, the Seychelles, and Uruguay have banned e-cigarettes, while, even though Canada banned vaping, e-cigarettes are still sold widely in the country.

There are more than 40 countries that have some type of ban on vaping — either use, sales or importation, or a combination, with prohibition being most common in Asia, the Middle East, and South America as well as in Australia. For countries banning e-cigarettes, they follow the World Health Organization (WHO) and its tobacco control arm the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) have encouraged restrictions and bans on e-cigarettes since the earliest products were introduced.

Here are a few countries and their status regarding e-cigarette use:

-Argentina: Legal to use, illegal to sell

-Brazil: Legal to use, illegal to sell

-Mexico: Legal to use, illegal to sell. However, there is a thriving vaping community in the country.

-Nicaragua: Banned

-United States: Legal to use, legal to sell — but sales of products produced after Aug.8, 2016 are prohibited without a marketing order from the FDA. Furthermore, the mayor of San Francisco has signed an ordinance that effectively bans e-cigarette sales within the city -- the first of its kind in the United States.

-Venezuela: Legal to use, illegal to sell, except approved medical products

-Bhutan: Legal to use, illegal to sell

-Cambodia: Banned

-India: A ban is being set up to take place.

-Japan: Legal to use, legal to sell devices, illegal to sell nicotine-containing liquid.

-North Korea: Believed to be banned

-Malaysia: Though sales are banned, Malaysia has a thriving vaping market.

-Nepal: Legal to use, illegal to sell

-Singapore: Banned

-Sri Lanka: Legal to use, illegal to sell

-Thailand: Legal to use, illegal to sell.

-Turkmenistan: Banned

-Turkey: Legal to use, illegal to import or sell.

-Australia: Legal to use, illegal to sell nicotine. In Australia, possessing or selling nicotine is illegal without a doctor’s prescription, but except in one state (Western Australia) vaping devices are legal to sell.

-Norway: Legal to use, illegal to sell nicotine

-Vatican City: Believed to be banned

-Egypt: Legal to use, illegal to sell

-Iran: Believed to be legal to use, definitely illegal to sell

-Qatar: Banned

-Saudi Arabia: Legal to use, illegal to sell

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