The Karnataka State Health Department had recently roped in the cybercrime police station to crackdown on websites and portals that advertise and sell electronic cigarettes. The cybercrime police station then issued a notice to these websites, prohibiting them from displaying, advertising, selling, manufacturing, trading and importing Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS).
A cybercrime official reported that almost 40 websites across the country, including the top e-commerce sites, had been given these notices. The websites were required to block all advertisements pertaining to e-cigarettes within 15 days of the receipt of the notice, and send the compliance to the health department. If the advertisement was still noticed after 15 days, then both criminal and civil action would be taken in the form of blocking the website.
The State government prohibited the sale (including online sale), manufacture, distribution, trade, import, advertisement of ENDS, their parts and components in any shape, or size of cartridges containing nicotine, after issuing a circular on June 15. Following this, there have been various apprehensions about the ban, with many lobbyists opposing and asking the State government to reverse the ban. E-cigarettes have been banned under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
Dr Vishal Rao of the State Anti-Tobacco Cell in Karnataka says, “A majority of these sales happen online, mainly on the e-commerce sites, which is why it is very important to crackdown on these websites through the cybercrime cell.”
The Notification says that the e-cigarettes and other such delivery products between 2 mg to 4 mg, and other than gumlozenge, are being freely marketed, distributed and sold without due regard to the concerned Acts and Rules, and in the absence of a provision for issuance of a valid licence from the appropriate authority. The use of nicotine in food products is prohibited under the Food Safety and Standards Act.