Indian eCommerce sites like Amazon, Flipkart and others have been rushing to remove listings for all vaping devices following the passage of a country-wide ban, Reuters reported on Thursday (Sept. 19).
India has banned “the sale, production, import and advertising” of e-cigarettes and cautioned that vaping is a youth “epidemic.”
“Online advertising and sales are banned. eCommerce service providers should take down the advertisements and sale offers immediately,” said Vikas Sheel, a senior health ministry official.
India’s new law was issued through an executive order, a health ministry spokeswoman said.
Amazon told Reuters that its policy does not allow the sale of e-cigarettes and that it immediately deals with merchants that sell banned goods deceptively. A source told the news outlet that Amazon is quickly removing any vaping product listings that it finds.
Flipkart told Reuters it was coordinating with merchants to pull any listings for the banned items.
Pro-vaping circles in India are against the ban because they say it removes a safer alternative to smoking regular cigarettes.
The ban will essentially dash expansion plans for companies like Philip Morris and Juul Labs in the country. Juul reportedly had plans to bring its eCigarette to India and had taken on multiple senior executives for the region. Philip Morris also had plans to roll out a heat-not-burn smoking device.
The news comes as a report surfaced that Juul Labs Inc.’s sales have ceased on two Chinese websites. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Tmall and JD.com Inc. started offering Juul vaporizers and refill pods from Sept. 9 to 13, but they had been removed from both retail sites by Tuesday.
A Juul spokesperson, Victoria Davis, said in a statement per the report, “While Juul products are not currently available on eCommerce websites in China, we look forward to continued dialogue with stakeholders so that we can make our products available again.”
Violators of the ban will get up to three years in jail.