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E-cigarette promoters' body counters health ministry's arguments

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ET Health
10th October, 2019 18:59 IST
New Delhi: Ahead of the first meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare on Friday, an umbrella body of traders promoting electronic cigarettes and similar devices, shared with it a counter to the health ministry's key arguments to ban alternative smoking devices. Trade Representatives of ENDS (TRENDS) sent a representation along with relevant documents to Ram Gopal Yadav, chairman of the parliamentary panel, and 30 other members.

The committee is expected to discuss the government's recent decision to bring in an ordinance to ban e-cigarettes in their meeting tomorrow, sources said.

TRENDS has urged the committee members to consider all evidence and ground realities, which, it claimed, will "sooner or later" make it difficult for the government to defend the ban.

Praveen Rikhy, convenor of TRENDS, said, "We are deeply concerned with a multitude of erroneous statements, misrepresentation and misinterpretation of Indian and global data, especially that from the US, from our health minister to justify the ban of e-cigarettes in India.

"It is unprecedented that US sales and user data are being quoted to enforce a ban on a category with negligible presence in the country, a category that is universally acknowledged to be less harmful than all other tobacco products with extremely high user base in India, through scare mongering."

On September 18, the government issued an ordinance making the manufacturing, production, import, export, distribution, transport, sale, storage or advertisements of such alternative smoking devices a cognizable offence, attracting jail term and fine.

First-time violators will face a jail term of up to one year and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. For subsequent offences, a jail term of up to three years or a fine of Rs 5 lakh, or both according to the ordinance.
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