While the district administrations across Jharkhand have enforced a clampdown on sale of e-cigarettes, the supply of these devices to cities here continue unabated through online retail platforms.
The State Drug Control Directorate conducted raids in Ranchi on Monday and seized e-cigarettes from at least four shops in the city. While the process of tightening the noose around e-cigarette retailers in the city is catching pace here, there is no regulation on the supply of e-cigarettes and their refills by online platforms, officials said.
Several websites are readily selling e-cigarettes and refills across India. It is a tough task to keep a check on the sale of e-cigarettes by these websites as the devices are directly sent to the residence of the people who place orders. On an average, an e-cigarette is sold for Rs 1200 to Rs 3,000 online and the price of the refill varies from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 depending on the flavour and the quantity. The devices are usually delivered to Ranchi within a week.
State nodal officer of National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP), L R Pathak said that the NTCP was aware of the online businesses, but any step taken to cut the supply of e-cigarettes to the city or the state had to be taken in accordance with the Government of India. “We know that online platforms are supplying e-cigarettes to Jharkhand and many other states. We will have to take this up with the Government of India since only the Centre can take a decision in this regard,” said Pathak.
An e-cigarette is a handheld electronic device that stimulates the feeling of smoking in users. It is said to cause fewer health hazards than smoking tobacco and the act of smoking an e-cigarette is called vaping. The device works by heating a liquid filled in it, which produces aerosol that looks like smoke. There are nicotine-free refills too available for these devices.
The liquid refills, which come in different flavours ranging from strawberry to mint, are usually made outside India. When an e-cigarette user takes a drag, this liquid gets heated and flavoured aerosol is released. In August, 2018, the union health ministry had asked all states and union territories to impose a ban on e-cigarettes owing to the health hazards it causes to children, adolescents and women of reproductive age. In March this year Jharkhand banned the use and sale of e-cigarettes here. Several raids have been conducted since the ban to check the sale of e-cigarettes, which were usually sold at small-time shops across the cities here.
Superintendent of Police (City) Hari Lal Choudhan said that the police will take help of their cyber team to check online sale of e-cigarettes in Ranchi. “We will take help of our cyber experts and see how we can stop the supply to Ranchi,” he said.