India bans e-cigarettes after string of US deaths

Joe Wallen
Around 120 million Indians currently smoke regular cigarettes - REUTERS

India has become the latest country to ban e-cigarettes after a succession of high-profile deaths in the United States were attributed to vaping.

The use of e-cigarettes has been promoted as a healthier alternative to smoking tobacco but the announcement is a further blow to an industry estimated to be worth £9.2 billion.

It comes a day after New York became the second American state to ban vaping.

The sale of e-cigarettes containing nicotine has been previously banned in several European countries, including Sweden and Norway, as well as in Hong Kong, Japan and Brazil.

Rather than burning tobacco – which contains 7,000 harmful chemicals – the battery-powered devices heat up a flavoured liquid containing nicotine which then turns into a vapour and is inhaled.

They do not contain ash, tar or carbon monoxide.

However, research into the long-term use of e-cigarettes is fairly limited as they have only been on the market since 2003.

Some studies have found that vaping products can contain carcinogens including formaldehyde and benzene.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has warned vaping for just a year could cause seizures and lung damage.

President Donald Trump has said he will be releasing ‘some very strong recommendations’ on vaping over the next few weeks.

It comes after seven people died in the U.S.A since August as a result of severe pulmonary diseases caused by vaping.

Researchers said they are investigating a further 380 cases of lung illness believed to be caused by e-cigarettes.

India has 106 million adult smokers – the higher number in the world after China – and firms such as Juul and Philip Morris had planned to capitalize on this by launching e-cigarettes.

Their plans had faced opposition from tobacco-farmers’ unions who lobbied the Indian Government to ban the products over fears they could lead to job losses.

An estimated 45 million Indians depend on the tobacco industry for their livelihoods. The Indian Government has introduced harsh penalties for those found flaunting the ban. First-time offenders will face a one-year jail term and a fine of ₹100,000 (£1,125).