Union Health Ministry has called for US-based Juul Labs' electronic cigarettes to be blocked from entering the country. The company had plans to tap the Indian market which has more than 100 million smokers.
In a letter to the Union Commerce Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office, the Health Ministry stated that the "novel products of Juul are harmful and addictive and could seriously undermine our tobacco control efforts." The ministry has also urged the Commerce Secretary to "prevent the entry of such products in our markets", Reuters reported.
It further said that the country's young generation particularly could feel vulnerable to such products and gimmicks.
On the other hand, Juul has not denied its plans to launch e-cigarettes in the Indian market and open its subsidiaries in South Asia. "We are open to dialogue with lawmakers and regulators in order to help switch adult smokers in India to a viable alternative to combustible cigarettes," spokeswoman Victoria Davis told Reuters.
Besides Juul, another top US tobacco brand Philip Morris has also set its eyes on the Indian market for e-cigarretes as its product Marlboro has already become a rage among the Indian young poulation.
E-cigarettes a safer alternative to traditional tobacco smoking?
The tobacco makers have been insisting that their plans to introduce e-cigarrete would help people switch to safer alternatives. Juul has stated that its aim was to make the lives of nearly one billion smokers around the world helathier by offering a safer alternative to combustible cigarretes.
However, the critics say that the promotional strategy of the tobacco brands around the e-cigarretes is a "farce" as these devices could lead to a more severe nicotine addiction among the younger lot and push people to consume tobacco.
Indian health secretary, Preeti Sudan told the Reuters that the current regulatory environment in India on tobacco use would get hurt by the false notion that the e-ciggaretes are relatively safe couples with their easy availablity.
The Indian government besides cracking down on the domestic and foreign tobacco brands of limitting their advertisement campaigns has also pushed for banning the manufacture and import of the cigarretes in the country.
More than 90,000 people in India die to tobacco consumption every year and the smoking related diseases cost the world nearly $16 billion annually, according to the World Health Organisation.
Tobacco use kills more than 900,000 people a year in India, and the World Health Organization estimates that tobacco-related diseases cost the country about $16 billion annually.