NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Some vaping products were still listed on the Indian websites of Amazon.com Inc and Walmart’s Flipkart on Thursday, while several other websites discontinued their sales a day after the government’s nationwide ban.
A man uses a vape device in this illustration picture, September 19, 2019. REUTERS/Adnan Abisi/Illustration
Warning of an “epidemic” among young people, India banned sale, production, import and advertising of e-cigarettes, dealing a blow to the plans of companies such as Juul Labs and Philip Morris International to sell the products in the country.
Websites such as Vapestop and Litejoy, which offered vaping products online, discontinued their operations and ran disclaimers on their websites related to the government order.
However, it was still possible to purchase vaping devices from the e-commerce websites of Amazon.com and Flipkart, according to product listings reviewed by Reuters on Thursday.
Amazon offered a “Honey Badger” vape device, which resembled a USB flash drive, for 2,799 rupees ($39.35), with flavored vape refills of mint, butter tobacco, mango and berry. Flipkart also listed the product.
A Reuters reporter successfully placed an order for the device on Amazon on Thursday. Other pen-shaped smoking vapes, with a small liquid bottle, were also available on the e-commerce website.
On vaping devices still being available for sale on Amazon and Flipkart, senior health ministry official Vikas Sheel said such products should be removed.
“Online advertising and sale is banned. E-commerce service providers should take down the advertisements and sale offers immediately,” Sheel told Reuters.
When contacted about the product listings, an Amazon spokeswoman in India said she would provide a comment in due course.
Flipkart said in a statement: “We are aware of the ordinance and immediately alerted our teams to work with sellers to take all products off the platform.”
On Wednesday, while announcing the ban, India’s health ministry said use of e-cigarettes, which come in attractive appearances and multiple flavors, had increased exponentially and acquired epidemic proportions in developed countries, especially among youth and children.
The ban was issued through an executive order, which has been in force since Wednesday night, a health ministry spokeswoman said.
Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Jacqueline Wong