‘END’ of the road: Proposed drug tag may lead to ban on electronic smoking devices
Going tough on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), the Health Ministry has proposed to classify such alternative smoking devices, including e-cigarettes, as “drugs” under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, in a bid to ban their manufacture, sale, distribution and import.
According to official sources, the proposal has been approved by the Drug Technical Advisory Board (DTAB).
The move comes amid a raging debate over the harm-reduction aspects of ENDS. Some organisations claim that these devices help in smoking cessation and are less harmful alternatives to traditional cigarettes, while the government A few States have already banned e-cigarettes
contends that they pose health risks to users, similar to those of conventional cigarettes.
The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has proposed that manufacture, sale and distribution of ENDS, should be prohibited under Section 26A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, while their import should be outlawed under Section 10A of the legislation.
The proposal stated that under the provisions of ‘drugs’ in the Act, any item intended to be used as an aid to help quit smoking is covered under the definition of drugs.
According to the proposal: “After revisiting its earlier deliberations, the Drugs Consultative Committee has recommended that since ENDS and related products are used as a tobacco cessation product and function for nicotine delivery, these devices fall under the definition of ‘drug’ as defined under Section 3(b) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.”
Asserting that availability of ENDS devices is widespread in the country and poses serious health risks, the proposal mentioned that the safety aspect of these products has not been established, and their efficacy on the Indian population too has not have been approved under the provisions of the drug law.
Some States — including Punjab, Haryana, Kerala, Mizoram, Karnataka, and Jammu and Kashmir — have already banned e-cigarettes as an unapproved drug.
While all of them have banned it under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, some have also added the Poisons Act, 1919.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recommended a “complete ban” on ENDS, saying their use can lead to nicotine addiction among non-smokers also.