The ban was announced last year, and the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir said its purpose was “to discourage the consumption of tobacco products by the public, especially the younger generation of state.”
The Directorate’s press release stated: “a complete ban has been imposed on the sale (including online sale) manufacture, distribution, trade, import and advertisement of Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS)/ e-Cigarettes in the state.”
Association Vape India (AVI), non-profit vape advocacy group, responded to the ban by saying: “A state like Jammu & Kashmir with high smoking population can do well to heed the direction UK, EU and US are taking in mitigating harm from smoking by encouraging smokers to shift. We hope you will reconsider. Here is voluminous research on ecigs: http://vapeindia.org/research/”
AVI reports: “Appearing on behalf of Mushtaq Ahmad Shah, the petitioner, Dr Farrukh Khan argued before the court that the circular issued by the state government banning e-cigarettes was perverse. Advocate general DC Raina appeared on behalf of the J&K government.”
After hearing the two sides, the bench of chief justice Geeta Mittal and justice Alok Aradhe issued notice to the state government. The bench directed the state government to file reply in two weeks’ time. The Advocate General accepted the notice on behalf of the state government.
AVI state that J&K has the sixth highest tobacco usage rate among all Indian states, as per the latest Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS).
As per the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), 38.2% men in J&K are addicted to some kind of tobacco usage. The only states that have a higher smoking rate than J&K are five northeastern states of Mizoram, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Manipur.
AVI, which represents both smokers and vapers in India, expressed satisfaction over today's developments. AVI’s director Samrat Chowdhery said it is regrettable that the J&K has resorted to e-cigarette ban at a time when tobacco usage in the state is alarmingly high. He suggested that the state should withdraw the ban in the interest of public health.
Chowdhery reminded that health regulators in developed countries like the US, the UK and other European countries have permitted usage of e-cigarette given its potential in fighting the menace of tobacco.
“Thanks to their regulatory embrace of e-cigarettes, these countries have seen declines in smoking rates unlike India, which is struggling to control the menace,” the AVI director added.
The next hearing has been scheduled for December 6.