India has banned the sale of all e-cigarettes in the country in response to the string of vaping-related deaths in the United States, according to a report from CNN.

“Unfortunately, e-cigarettes got promoted initially as a way in which people can get out of the habit of smoking cigarettes. It was to be a weaning process from using cigarettes,” said India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

“The Cabinet rightly thought it is time and we immediately took a decision so that the health of our citizens, of our young, is not thrown to a risk,” she added.

US Lung Illnesses Prompt Action

Sitharaman said that the rash of lung illnesses that have been linked to vaping in the U.S. and domestic concerns about e-cigarettes led the Cabinet to act. She added that the government will soon issue an emergency ordinance banning all electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) devices. The ordinance will then be taken up by the nation’s Parliament during its next session to be enacted into law.

India’s ban on vaping products will prohibit the sale, manufacturing, importing, exporting, distribution, storage, and advertising of e-cigarettes. The ban applies to all ENDS, heat-not-burn, and e-hookah devices, according to a press release.

“These novel products come with attractive appearances and multiple flavors and their use has increased exponentially and has acquired epidemic proportions in developed countries, especially among youth and children,” the government said in the release.

Violations of Ban Carry Stiff Penalties

First-time violators of the ban on e-cigarettes in India could face up to a year in prison, a fine of 100,000 rupees (about $1,400), or both. Further violations of the ordinance could be subject to penalties of up to five years in prison and a 500,000 ($7,000) fine. Storing e-cigarette devices would subject offenders to six months in prison and a fine of 50,000 rupees ($700).

Businesses with vaping devices on hand will be required to declare their inventory and turn over all e-cigarettes and cartridges to their local police station.

US Also Taking Action on Vaping

In the United States, last week the Trump administration announced that it would ban the sale of flavored nicotine vape products. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported late last week that there have been 380 confirmed and probable cases in 36 states of lung illnesses experienced by people who vape.

The previous week the agency had announced that more than 450 cases of pulmonary disease could be associated with vaping, but that number also included reports of possible cases. Symptoms of the mysterious illness include severe shortness of breath, vomiting, fever, and fatigue. Other symptoms include coughing, chest pain, diarrhea, and signs of infection, such as fever, without a known cause.

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