India is the latest country to outlaw vaping after a mystery pulmonary illness killed seven people in the U.S.
The vaping-related illness has now killed people in California, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Oregon, while many more are unwell. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has activated its Emergency Operations Center in response.
Researchers are looking into 380 cases of Americans falling ill as a result of using e-cigarettes to vape CBD, THC, or nicotine.
India has now decided to ban e-cigarettes, claiming it will help protect children from addiction. The world’s second most populous nation, which has more than 100 million smokers, made the announcement today.
Health minister Harsh Vardhan tweeted to say that even possessing e-cigarettes will be punishable by up to six months in prison and a fine of up to 50,000 rupees ($700).
It followed a white paper from the Indian Council of Medical Research, which said e-cigarettes are addictive and dangerous. Samrat Choudhery, founder of Association of Vapers India, hit back, claiming: “The government owns 28% of ITC, a leading manufacturer of cigarettes, which means it is directly profiteering from the cigarette trade, along with earning [millions] in taxes on cigarettes.”
Yet the decision to ban vaping follows a global trend. Singapore has banned e-cigarettes, the U.S. federal government has announced there will soon be a ban on flavoured e-cigarette products to stem a rising tide of youth users, and New York has just been given the go-ahead to officially ban all flavoured e-cigarettes.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it an emergency and laid into flavours like bubble gum and cotton candy that producers have used.
Vaping cannabis is hugely popular in California, Colorado and other states, and the market in Canada will open up for vapes in December. Many in the Canadian industry have been awaiting the advent of vapes and edibles to give the recreational cannabis sector a much-needed boost, but the spate of deaths and illnesses could lead to vaping being banned.
Vancouver-based 1933 Industries, which sells vapes in Nevada, has issued a statement to assure the market of the safety and quality of its products. Cannabis consultant Jason Sturtsman added that marijuana is not to blame for the deaths.