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      Health Ministry Said to Issue Notices to 15 Websites for Selling E-Cigarettes and Monitoring Advertisements on Social Media

      Union Health Ministry has sent notices to 15 websites selling e-cigarettes, which are ban in India, directing them to stop advertisement and sale of the products, official sources said.
      Six more websites are on the radar, they said, adding the ministry is also closely monitoring the advertisement and sale of e-cigarettes on social media and might issue notices to them soon.

      From the 15 websites which have issue the “takedown notice”, four have stop operations and the rest have not respond yet, an official source told PTI.

      As per source :

      “If they don’t respond and comply with the law, the health ministry will write to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology for taking down these websites. Legal action will also be taken against these websites accordingly,”.

      The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage, and Advertisement) Act came into force in 2019.

      Health ministry’s notice to the websites said :

      “We have identified that information relating to online advertisement and sale of illegal e-cigarettes, which is unlawful under Section 4 of the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Act is being hosted, displayed, published, transmitted, and shared on your platform.”

      “In light of the above, and under section 79(3)(b) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act), and in pursuance of the government notification on 15th November, 2021, the undersign is hereby authorise to direct you to disable access and or remove any information identified in the enclose document without vitiating the evidence in any manner,”.

      The notice warn that failure in complying with the directive “may amount to aiding/abetting the transmission of such unlawful information or conduct of such unlawful activity, as the case may be, and you may be prosecute for hosting such information, data, or communication links“.

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      Further, failure to take necessary action may attract penalties under the IT Act and/or Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Act, the notice said.

      The online entities were ask to respond within 36 hours of receiving the notice.

      As per official source :

      “Four of the 15 online entities have responded and shut down their operations. We are still waiting for the remaining to respond, failing which further action will be initiated,”.

      The Health ministry had in February written to all states and Union Territories to ensure effective compliance with the ban on e-cigarettes and had express concern that these devices were still available online and with local vendors.

      In a letter to chief secretaries, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had said instances of devices like e-cigarettes being sold at convenience or stationery stores and near educational institutions have also report which is resulting in these products being easily accessible to children.

      In May, the health ministry issue a public notice for stricter implementation of the Act and directed all producers, manufacturers, importers, exporters, distributors, advertisers, and transporters, including couriers, social media websites, and online shopping websites, produce, procure or sell e-cigarettes directly or indirectly. 

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