New Delhi: Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Bill that bans usage of e-cigarettes in the country by voice vote on Wednesday. If this Bill comes to force it will prohibit production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale or distribution of electronic cigarettes in India.

The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage, and Advertisement) Bill, 2019 was passed after a detailed reply by health and family welfare minister Harsh Vardhan. The Bill seeks to replace an ordinance brought by the government earlier. The amendments moved by the opposition members were negated.

Cutting across party lines, parliamentarians were supportive of the Bill, but urged the house to not stop at just banning e-cigarettes. Most were of the opinion that smoking tobacco-based cigarettes also cause considerable harm and should eventually be banned following the e-cigarette route.

The Bill provides for punishment for contravention of provisions of the Act with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees or with both.

Union minister Harsh Vardhan said the government had banned e-cigarettes to nip the evil in the bud and they have an adverse impact on the cardiovascular system, adolescent brains and cause cancer. 

Most parties including opposition parties supported the Bill but questioned the government's decision to adopt the ordinance route for the legislation. 

Replying to the opposition's argument, Vardhan said, "I can't be insensitive to the health of our people and the ordinance was a presumptive strike on this hazardous addiction."

According to the bill, first time offenders can be jailed up to a year and a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh can be imposed. For repeat offenders, the jail term can be extended up till three years with fine extending up till Rs 5 lakh.