E-cigarettes, in contravention of its ban are openly being sold by outlets in Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune etc. Electronic cigarettes are devices that do not burn or use tobacco leaves as in case of traditional cigarettes but instead vaporise a solution which the user inhales.
Electronic cigarettes are being promoted as a safe alternative to conventional cigarettes in the Western countries by manufacturers and is fast gaining acceptance especially amongst the younger population.
In India too, the device has found favour and is being lapped up by the youth. The World Health Organisation has not yet certified e-cigarettes to be a safe alternative to cigarettes as the emissions from electronic cigarettes contain chemicals, some of them considered to be toxicants.
In addition, it is a fact that Nicotine which is the main constituent of e-cigarettes is addict forming and once youngsters get hooked to it, they would never be able to get rid of its usage or even shift to traditional cigarettes.
The Maharashtra Govt. had taken a very proactive stand when it came to its public policy on e- cigarettes. E-cigarettes stand banned in the State as per the Drug Cosmetics Act/Rules from as far back as January 2014. Also, the media has reported that Maharashtra Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) have directed its officers to enforce a complete ban on e-cigarettes.
Further in August 2018, the Union Health Ministry has also sent an advisory to all States advising complete restriction on trade including online sale in e-cigarettes and similar devices.
However, the best intention of the Maharashtra Govt. in checking the habit of e-cigarette usage especially amongst the younger generation has come to naught. There are as many as 27 e-commerce sites from which anyone can order for e-cigarettes and its delivery is guaranteed in the State in no time.
The situation is alarming for the State as there is a huge concentration of young tech-savvy population in the State and specially in cities like Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur etc. who at the click of a mouse can get hold of e-cigarettes like JUUL (the brand is widely popular amongst young people in (USA). Therefore, students who throng the State in the institutes of higher learning or young employees in the IT industry in Maharashtra are at great danger of being hooked to e-cigarettes as a lifestyle product.
In addition, anyone can easily purchase e-cigarettes even from any conventional shops in the main cities of the State, as these stores in violation of the Govt. ban, has been peddling the device with impunity.
Unless the authorities take immediate measures to block the e-commerce sites which are helping the young people in the State to get addicted to e-cigarettes, the situation may get completely out of hand and spell doom for the health of the younger generation.
A parallel move worth pursuing would be to warn all courier agencies in the State not to carry any package containing e-cigarettes and heavily penalize those violating the law. For that matter the enforcement authorities would do well to immediately conduct raids in the stores selling e-cigarettes and seize the stocks so that the menace of e-cigarette in Maharashtra is met head on.
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