Mohali man gets 3-years in jail for selling e-cigs

Anti-vaping legislation is threatening vapers in nearly every country of the world, proof of which can be seen in the recent news story about a Mohalian shopkeeper getting 3-years in jail for selling e-cigs.  Judge Saru Mehta Kaushik found that Parvesh Kumar from Punjab Crockery was in violation of the nation’s Drugs and Cosmetics Act, passed over 65-years ago in 1940. 

In addition to jail time, Kumar has to pay a hefty fine of Rs 1 lakh, which is about $1500 in U.S. currency.  If Kumar doesn’t pay the fine, he will receive another 6-months of “rigorous imprisonment.”   Currently out on bail, he has only a month to win an appeal. 

Should Kumar go to jail for selling e-cigs?

In 2013, the Mohalian government issued a directive that seems to support the original 65-year old law.  The directive states that electronic cigarettes are an “unapproved drug” and that the resulting water vapor is “unsafe” for public consumption.  Using this supportive documentation, Judge Kaushik released an official statement after the Kumar ruling citing that e-cigs contain nicotine in chemical form that can be ” potentially lethal.” 

The case hit the Molali newspapers late last week, and already many high ranking government officials are denouncing the young man publically.  Health Secretary Vini Mahajan believes the recent conviction has “shown the way to the entire country to end the nicotine-delivery devices sold in the form of e-cigarettes.”  Health Secretary Vini Mahajan agrees, and Drug Administration Commissioner Hussan Lal went even farther by openly referring to the presumed health benefits of e-cigs and vaping devices as a “farce.”

Could this happen in America?

While the OMD and the FDA go back and forth regarding the specific wording for a proposed ban on e-cigs in the United States, the Canadian Vaping Association is trying to convince the courts to label Quebec Bill 44 as unconstitutional.  Bill 44 is already approved legislation that prohibits e-cig retailers from openly marketing their products, including through online advertising.  Countries around the world are fighting the same battle, but going to jail for selling e-cigs is perhaps the most severe form of anti-vaping legislation yet. 

The next issue on the table in Mohali may be very similar to the Quebec Bill 44.  According to a Mohali newspaper, the country’s Union Health Minister was contacted last week by the U.S. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.  Hamburg apparently wrote a letter urging the Minister to begin enforcing a ban on online sales of e-cigs, as well. 

While an advertising ban, online or otherwise, has not yet appeared in any of the proposed U.S. anti-vaping bills, the fact that a U.S. official is also contacting foreign governments in support of an online ban makes many in the vaping industry wonder, “Will U.S. vape shop owners also be at risk of going to jail for selling e-cigs in the very near future?”

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