New Delhi: The consumer body for tobacco harm reduction, Association of Vapers India (AVI), has raised strong objection to the aviation security regulator’s decision to ban e-cigarettes and similar products on all airports and aircraft in India.
AVI said that despite the health ministry as well as the Union health minister making it clear that the e-cigarettes prohibition law does not include consumption, the authorities are using it to harass users.
On January 10, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) issued an internal circular stating, “Upon the prohibition of electronic-cigarettes by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, it has been decided that e-cigarettes include all forms of electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS), heat not burn products, e-hookah and the like devices.” This has led to e-cigarette devices being confiscated from hundreds of air travellers across the country who were unaware of the sudden rule change.
AVI director Samrat Chowdhery said: “The BCAS has failed to understand the new law. Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan in his Lok Sabha address very clearly stated that personal use is excluded from its ambit as it would criminalize laypeople and violate personal liberties, but the aviation regulator is going against the minister’s public assurance. We urge the health minister to intervene in the matter so that people are not harassed.”
“We are also seeking legal assistance as the regulator’s move curtails the fundamental rights of users who are using e-cigarette devices as a harm reduction tool,” Chowdhery added.
Citing the BCAS circular dated January 10, AVI advocate Pingal Khan said: “The move of the BCAS is the result of their negligence as they have failed to understand clause 5A of the bill which bans the transport of e-cigarettes, but it is in relation to trade, not personal consumption. This also calls for an immediate intervention of the health ministry which should clarify what quantity of e-cigarette devices or refills can be carried for personal use.”