In a move that will dash the plans for expansion of companies like Philip Morris and Juul Labs in the country, India prohibited the import, production and sale of electronic cigarettes. The ban will be made through an executive order and will come with jail terms as long as three years for offenders, CNBC reported on Wednesday (Sept. 18).
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, according to reports, “Considering the seriousness of the impact of e-cigarettes on the youth, the cabinet has approved an ordinance to ban e-cigarettes.” Juul reportedly had plans to bring its eCigarette to the country and had taken on multiple senior executives for the region. Philip Morris also reportedly had plans to roll out a heat-not-burn smoking device.
A Juul spokesperson in India declined to comment to the outlet, while Philip Morris didn’t immediately reply to a comment request per the outlet. India has 106 million adult smokers, globally second to China.
The news comes as a report surfaced that Juul Labs Inc.’s sales have stopped on two Chinese websites. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Tmall and JD.com Inc. started offering Juul vaporizers in addition to refill pods in flavors like Virginia tobacco and mint from Sept. 9 to 13. They had reportedly been taken off both online retail sites by Tuesday.
Neither Tmall nor JD.com could be reached for comment immediately per the news outlet. A Juul spokesperson, Victoria Davis, said in a statement per the report, “While Juul products are not currently available on e-commerce Web sites in China, we look forward to continued dialogue with stakeholders so that we can make our products available again.”
Markets in Asia are important for the company to expand its user base, particularly the world’s largest cigarette market of China. According to the World Health Organization, as cited by the report, there are over 300 million cigarette smokers in the country and 59 percent of men smoke.