The Cabinet has approved a ban on the production, manufacturing, import, export, transport, sale and advertisements of e-cigarettes with the offence being punishable with a jail term of one to three years and fines of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakhs.

“These novel products come with attractive appearances and multiple flavours and their use has increased exponentially and acquired epidemic proportions in developed countries, especially among the youth and children,” the health ministry has stated, according to The Times of India.

The existing stock of e-cigarettes is to be disposed from the date of commencement of the ordinance and declared and deposited with the police. TOI further reports that the ordinance will come into force once it is approved by the President and be converted into a bill in the next session of Parliament. While first-time offenders will face a jail term of one year or a fine of one lakh rupees, repeat offenders can spend up to three years in jail and face a fine of five lakh rupees.

The mere storage of e-cigarettes will be punishable with a jail term of six months or a fine of fifty thousand rupees.

“The decision to prohibit e-cigarettes will help protect our people, especially the youth and children, from the risk of addiction through e-cigarettes. They are being marketed as a harm-reduction product which is contrary to the truth,” Bhavna Mukhopadhay, the chief executive of the Voluntary Health Association of India told TOI.

Trade bodies promoting e-cigarettes and other stakeholders have slammed the ban with Samrat Choudhery, the director of the Association of Vapers India has said that this ordinance will put multiple lives at risk and that “the haste shown by the government in enacting a ban indicates it is more concerned about protecting the cigarette industry than improving public health”.