India on Wednesday banned the sale of electronic cigarettes and warned of an “epidemic” among young people, in the latest and potentially biggest global move against vaping over growing health concerns.
The ban cuts off a huge future market from e-cigarette makers at a time when the number of people smoking worldwide is declining.
It could dash the expansion plans of companies such as Juul Labs and Philip Morris International in the nation.
“These novel products come with attractive appearances and multiple flavors, and their use has increased exponentially and acquired epidemic proportions in developed countries, especially among youth and children,” the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.
The ban also covers the production, import and advertising of e-cigarettes — but not the use of them. It comes at a time when vaping is facing increased scrutiny in other nations.
The US last week said it would to remove flavored e-cigarettes from stores, warning that sweet flavors had drawn millions of children into nicotine addiction.
The Indian prohibition is to be imposed through an executive order and includes prison terms of up to three years for offenders.
The sales ban was announced by Indian Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman at a news conference, where she showed various types of products to the media, including a Juul vaping device, which resembles a USB flash drive.
India’s vapor-products market was valued at US$57 million last year, Euromonitor International data showed.
Before the ban, the research group estimated the market in India would grow by nearly 60 percent a year until 2022.
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