New Delhi: Nearly a fortnight after the Central government approved an ordinance to ban e-cigarettes, e-hookahs, Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan has written a letter to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and State governments to conduct monthly drive and inspect the availability and usage of e-cigarettes in educational institutions.

“This is to inform that the Central government has prohibited electronic cigarettes through promulgation of ‘The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage, and advertisement) ordinance 2019,” the letter stated.

“It is requested that necessary instructions be taken by all the concerned departments. They are directed to take necessary measures to implement the provisions of the Ordinance. It is also requested that a month-long drive may also be undertaken to ensure the implementation of the provisions of the ordinance,” the letter further stated.

The ban on e-cigarettes includes a strict prohibition on production, import, distribution, sale, and use of electronic cigarettes along with imprisonment and penalty for violators.

On September 30, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that the Union Cabinet has given the approval to ban e-cigarettes, e-hookahs in the country after a major decision was taken in this regard.

“It means the production, manufacturing, import or export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertising related to e-cigarettes are banned,” the minister had said.

Giving the examples of a number of reports, Sitharaman had said there are some who are probably getting into the habit of e-cigarettes as it seems cool.

“It is believed that there are more than 400 brands, none of which is manufactured yet in India. And they come in over 150 flavours,” she said.

The draft ordinance, which was proposed by the health ministry, stated that maximum imprisonment of up to one year along with a penalty of Rs 1 lakh should be imposed on first-time violators.

During the announcement, she had also recommended a maximum of up to three years of jail and a penalty of Rs 5 lakh for habitual offenders.

Harmful to health, e-cigarettes or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) are battery-powered devices used to smoke or ‘vape’, a flavoured solution containing nicotine. It is an addictive chemical found in cigarettes which are not good for health.

Banning the e-cigarette was one of the main priorities of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government in the first 100 days.

(With inputs from ANI)