WASHINGTON (July 28, 2021)— Though India has the second largest population of tobacco users in the world, e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn tobacco products are banned. The man responsible for this ban, Minister of Health Dr. Harsh Vardhan, recently resigned, placing India on the brink of a potential policy overhaul. Adjusting the regulatory framework to encourage healthier alternatives to combustible tobacco products will promote consumer safety and reduce the overall number of tobacco users.

In a new policy study, R Street Research Fellow Chelsea Boyd examines India’s complex tobacco landscape. The markets, both formal and informal, include many combustible and non-combustible products. But inconsistent enforcement contributes to a growing unregulated trade. For example, unregistered manufacturers of bidis, a popular type of hand rolled cigarette, circumvent both taxes and labor laws. Sensible, consistent regulation that focuses on safer alternatives to combustible cigarettes could be the key to healthier tobacco use in India. “In a country where tobacco use rates are declining by about 2 percent every two years, allowing the use of e-cigarettes and other reduced-risk products could help boost these rates,” writes Boyd.

Read the policy study here.