The Delhi government has informed the Delhi High Court that it has initiated steps to completely ban the production, sale and supply of e-cigarettes and steps are being taken to create public awareness. In an affidavit, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said preparation of e-cigarettes and e-liquids containing nicotine was contrary to the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act (DCA). The DGHS, which comes under the Delhi government's Health Department, put forward its stand in an affidavit filed before a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar, which was hearing a plea seeking to regulate the sale and consumption of e-cigarettes. The court has listed the matter for hearing on August 21.
The DGHS said in the affidavit that only a certain kind of nicotine preparation is allowed under the DCA. Electronic, vapour, electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), e-cigarettes and e-liquids do not fall in the categories of preparations that are allowed under the Act. "Therefore, the trade, commerce, production, supply and distribution of these substances would be prohibited under the DCA," it said. E-cigarettes are hand-held devices which help to create the feeling of tobacco smoking. Various makers of the device say the e-liquid inside the device heats up when activated and creates an aerosolised vapour which provides a flavour similar to tobacco.
The DGHS said it has already initiated steps to completely ban the production, supply, advertisement, sale, distribution and use of electronic vapours, ENDS/ e-cigarettes, e-liquids containing nicotine etc, among all age groups and in all places. It said it was also "creating awareness among the public, including educational institutes and various stakeholders at every level, and is also planning mass media activities to communicate the adverse effects of these substances". It submitted that the petition was infructuous in relation to the DGHS as it has already initiated the process for banning these substances and is already taking steps to spread awareness about the adverse effects of these substances.
Earlier, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had told the court that nicotine addiction through e-cigarettes among young people may lead them to try conventional tobacco products and it was considering a ban on the item. Though there are no specific guidelines to deal with new emerging threats such as ENDS or e-cigarettes (ECs), several states and Union territories have taken steps to prohibit them, it had said. The court was hearing a plea filed by Seema Sehgal, a homemaker, who has sought directions to the governments to formulate a policy and guidelines for advertisements and regulation of sale, production and supply of the product.
The plea has sought directions to authorities to inform the public about the harmful effects of the e-cigarettes. It has claimed that e-liquids comprise a solution of liquid nicotine. The petition has said the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003, which governs the tobacco consumption law, does not provide for the use of e-liquids containing nicotine.