Production, trade, transport, storage and advertisement of electronic cigarettes, will be considered a punishable offence nowonwards after Parliament gave nod to Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Bill, 2019.
The Rajya Sabha passed the Bill with voice vote on Monday. Lok Sabha has already cleared the Bill which defines electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) as electronic devices that heat a substance, which may contain nicotine and other chemicals, to create vapour for inhalation.
The government had issued ordinance to ban e-cigarettes in September this year. The new law would replace the ordinance.
“We have done it with very pious intention. There is no vested interest,” Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told the House in his reply on the bill.
During the debate on the bill, some members expressed apprehensions that the government had brought this bill under pressure from tobacco lobby and demanded the ban be extended to raw tobacco and conventional cigarettes.
The minister said that he would be the happiest person on the earth if tobacco could be banned completely.
The bill provides for imprisonment of up to one year, or a fine of up to one lakh rupees, or both to a first time violator.
For any subsequent offence, it says that the crime will be punishable with imprisonment of up to three years, along with a fine of up to five lakh rupees.
Under the Bill, no person is allowed to use any place for the storage of any stock of e-cigarettes. If any person stores any stock of e-cigarettes, he will be imprisoned for up to six months, or slapped with a fine of up to fifty thousand rupees, or both.
If an authorised officer believes that any provision of the Bill has been contravened, he can search any place where trade, production, storage or advertising of e-cigarettes is being undertaken.