India’s Health Regulator Calls For Ban On E-Cigarettes

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India’s health regulator has called for the restriction on Juul Labs’ electronic cigarettes, which it has proposed to be blocked from entering the country, according to a letter released to the press.

In a letter written by health secretary Preeti Sudan wrote “Novel products such as ‘Juul’ are harmful and addictive and could potentially undermine our tobacco control efforts.”

Earlier in January it was reported that the U.S.-based electronic cigarette company, popular among the young population (for which it has also received backlash), was hoping to launch its products in India by late 2019.

As part of its Juul ‘s India plan, the company has recruited Uber India executive Rachit Ranjan as a senior public policy strategist and has also hired India-based Mastercard executive Rohan Mishra as head of government relations. The company was also planning to hire at least three more executives, including an India general manager and with plans of a new India subsidiary.

Citing the above report, India’s top health official wrote a letter to the federal commerce secretary in February, saying necessary measures should be taken to “prevent entry of such products in our markets”.

Cutting The Nicotine

Currently if a consumer wants to buy a Juul in India it can range between INR 5K to INR 7.5 K depending upon the kit with refills, which come in the form of small rectangles called ‘pods’ costing around INR 2.4K.

This a big price touchpoint and with the ban looming, it will only rise higher which could discourage for both the consumer and for the company’s plan on tapping into the second highest smoker population in the world.

Some may argue that while continuing to allow sale of cigarettes but banning a healthier alternative like Juul in India, seems irrational.

But the case which the regulator might be looking to make is that the nicotine delivery system increases the chances of getting hooked with the ease of smoking the device which can be recharged through an USB port and does not leave a residual smell. The company has taken measures to reduce the nicotine concentration in its vape juice.

Each Juul cartridge—which lasts about 200 puffs—has as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes.

It’s just not in India that Juul has come into conflict with regulators but also in the US, the San Francisco based company has faced some scathing heat from parents, schools, public health advocates, lawmakers, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In September last year, FDA, which is the health Realtor in the US, gave Juul 60 days to prove it can keep its devices out of the hands of kids, or else the company’s flavored products would be taken off the market.

The FDA recently moved a proposal to limit the sale of e-cigarettes in convenience stores and keeping them out of the hands of anyone below 18 years of age.

 

L.Nasir