India considering a ban on electronic cigarettes
Interestingly, a policy study just published on R.Street was conducted with the aim of looking into whether such bans are even legal, and found that not only do they violate World Trade Organization rules, but most of them also violate domestic laws.
“Currently, tobacco-heated products that contain tobacco are classified as tobacco products and therefore do not face discrimination issues,” said R Street Associate Fellow Maria Foltea. “However, e-cigarettes, which do not contain tobacco, can be classified either as ‘recreational’ or ‘medical products and devices.’ This broader classification opens the door for their prohibition, because nicotine is a drug that also has medicinal uses. Such classification can subject products that contain nicotine to a different set of classifications in ways that appear arbitrary.”
Foltea pointed out that although vaping products are significantly safer than their combustible counterparts, the two distinctly different products are in direct competition on the market. “There is therefore good reason to believe that, as long as traditional cigarettes are freely traded, a ban on e-cigarettes will be found discriminatory under WTO rules. Accordingly, regulators must consider such issues of legality before enacting any such prohibitive laws.” she concluded.