India strengthens crackdown on vape and orders 15 e-commerce companies to stop advertising and sales

The Indian Ministry of Health has intensified its efforts to curb the use of e-cigarettes in the country. According to news reports from July 18th, the ministry issued notices to 15 vape e-commerce websites, instructing them to halt e-cigarette sales and advertising. The website operators were given a 36-hour window to respond to the notice. Of the 15 websites, 4 have reportedly already ceased operations, while the others have not yet responded.

If the websites fail to comply with the notice and the relevant laws, the Indian Ministry of Health plans to escalate the matter. They may approach the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to shut down these websites directly and pursue legal action against them.

The Ministry of Health’s notice is rooted in the Information Technology Act 2000 and a government notice from November 15, 2021. The notice authorizes the recipients to prohibit access to and/or delete any information related to the illegal sale of vapes, by the law.

Reports indicate that the Ministry of Health is focusing on the 15 notified e-commerce websites and keeping a watchful eye on an additional 6 such websites. Additionally, the ministry is monitoring the advertising and sales of vapes on social media platforms and might issue notifications to these platforms shortly.

India’s “Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Act,” which was enacted in 2019, enforces a comprehensive ban on the production, manufacturing, import, export, transportation, sale, distribution, storage, and advertising of electronic cigarettes. In May of the same year, the Indian Ministry of Health issued an announcement that mandated strict adherence to this law for all stakeholders involved in the production, sale, and distribution of e-cigarettes, including producers, manufacturers, importers, exporters, distributors, advertisers, and even courier companies, social media sites, and online shopping platforms.

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