Soon after the government marked the first 100 days in power for the second term, the Centre fulfilled one of its 100-day agendas — banning alternative smoking, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on Wednesday, announced that the Cabinet has approved the decision of banning electronic cigarettes. The minister said that the government will bring in an Ordinance and the matter will be taken to the Winter Session of Parliament.

Now, what is an electronic cigarette?

It is a tar-free electronic device which was believed to be lesser harmful than cigarettes. There is no fire, no ash, no smoke. Hence, the process of smoking an electronic cigarette is known as vaping. The device contains flavoured nicotine which produces vapour once the battery is on.

Electronic cigarettes are available in the US since 2006. It was touted as an alternative to harmful smoking which could actually help you quit smoking.

However, there has been no study to find out the effectiveness of this claim. Instead, the US has finally woken up to the multiple ill-effects of vaping.

Early this month, President Donald Trump announced that it would soon ban flavoured e-cigarette products as several vaping-related deaths have triggered concerns. US states Michigan and New York have already banned vaping.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the US recently that there were now more than 450 possible cases of pulmonary illness associated with vaping in the US.

New York’s health department found very high levels of vitamin E oil in cannabis cartridges used by dozens of people in the state who had fallen ill after using e-cigarettes. Vitamin E is a commonly used nutritional supplement but is dangerous when inhaled.

More than 30 countries, including Brazil, Singapore, Uruguay, Thailand etc., have banned vaping.

Now coming to India’s perspective, it has always been a contentious issue as allowing e-cigarettes would hit tobacco farmers hard.

According to reports, the Bharatiya Kishan Union has appealed to the Centre to ban vaping products in the country.

“If e-cigarettes are allowed in India, it will have a devastating effect on the tobacco farmers in India. The main reason is that the e-cigarette companies who are trying to open shops in India are of foreign origin and do not use Indian tobacco. In fact, the countries that these e-cigarettes belong to, like the US, have also banned them,” Jagjit Singh Dallewala of the BKU said in a statement on Tuesday.

According to reports, the BKU has alleged that extraction of nicotine from tobacco is done outside India. The tobacco used is also grown outside India, the raw material used to manufacture nicotine is the tobacco dust, produced while processing chewing and beedi tobacco. The farmers do not produce any fresh quantity of tobacco to extract nicotine.