India's cabinet on Wednesday banned production and import of electronic cigarettes, a public health move that is seen dashing the expansion plans of companies such as Juul Labs and Philip Morris International, reports Reuters.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told a media briefing that an executive order will be passed to ban the products, which the government believes will advance tobacco control efforts in the country.
Sitharaman said e-cigarettes were becoming an increasing health risk as they were being used as a "style statement", and not as a tobacco cessation product.
More than 900,000 people die each year in the country due to tobacco-related illnesses. But India has 106 million adult smokers, second only to China in the world, making it a lucrative market for firms such as Juul and Philip Morris.
The ban will be imposed through an executive order which is typically issued in India as an emergency measure when parliament is not in session. It can lapse if it is not approved when lawmakers convene against in the next session, which will most likely be held around November.
India's health ministry had proposed to ban the devices in the public interest, saying it was needed to ensure e-cigarettes don’t become an "epidemic" among children and young adults, according to the draft regulation seen by Reuters.
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