'Kindly Understand The Gravity Of The Problem', Delhi HC Tells Delhi Govt. In A PIL Seeking Regulation Of E-Cigarettes

Delhi High Court passed an Order directing the Delhi Government to file an affidavit showing steps taken by them for regulating Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) in the state. The court noted the urgency of the matter by highlighting that many children are picking up ENDS such as e-cigarettes without knowing the harm it can cause to their health.

Suri & Company, an impleader in a PIL seeking regulation of manufacture, sale, import, distribution, storage and advertisement of ENDS made the following submissions before the court:

  1. Currently there are over 460 E-cigarette brands with varied configurations of nicotine delivery available in the market with over 7700 flavours
  2. Nicotine is a chemical that is not safe for the purposes of ingestion in any quantity. If it is not permitted as an ingredient in pesticides, it is certainly not safe to use for human consumption. E-cigarettes contain 2-30 percent of Nicotine and the quantity is entirely unregulated.
  3. In India, the use of Nicotine as an ingredient in any food item is prohibited under regulation 2.3.4 of the Food Safety and Standards ( Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations, 2011 of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006.
  4. 15 states have already banned ENDS devices, while the Central Government has only issued an advisory which is not backed by any comprehensive implementation strategy or roadmap given to each state. In fact, on 03.07.2019, the Gujarat assembly unanimously passed a bill banning e-cigarettes.
  5. Vaping and ENDS companies seem to be targeting the age group between 12-16 with its emphasis on flavours such as cranberry, mango, toffee, etc. Their claim that this is a healthy alternative to cigarettes ' is false and is not backed by any evidence
  6. Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940, the only approved quantity of nicotine for human consumption is 2 Mg in gum and lozenges ( manufactured by registered pharmaceutical manufacturers and sold through registered pharmacies ) which is to be used as an aid for nicotine replacement therapy. The amount contained in ENDS devices is unregulated and contains anything between 2 mg - 30 mg of nicotine on an average.
  7. There is a white paper on Electronic Nicotine Delivery System dated 29.05.2019 authored by the Indian Council of Medical Research ( ICMR ) which has also recommends a complete prohibition on ENDS devices in India
  8. Already these devices are being used as e loading devices for heroin cocaine and other lethal drugs at college rave parties across the country

The Division Bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice Hari Shanker closely reviewed each observation and noted the gravity of the problem. The counsel for the Delhi government, Sanjoy Ghose, however submitted that the government has undertaken steps to curb ENDS and is working towards a complete ban. The court asked the government to consider the seriousness of the issue and submit an affidavit through the Chief Secretary mentioning the aforesaid steps.