The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared an ordinance to ban E-cigarettes in the country.

"There has been a substantial increase in the number of young people, including school children, taking to e-cigarettes in the US and even in India, the youth is said to consider vaping as a style statement," said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while briefing the media on the decision taken by the Cabinet.

"There are nearly 3 million e-cigarette users in the US currently and in a manner of four to five years since 2011, there has been a 900 per cent growth its users. It is also alarming that there was 78 per cent increase in number of school children using e-cigarettes in the US," she said.

"The decision to prohibit its use would protect population, particularly the youth and children from the risk of nicotine addiction through e-cigarettes," the Minister added.

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The ban promulgated through an ordinance makes it illegal to manufacture, sell, transport, distribute and advertise as well as to export and import e-cigarettes.

But many who champion the cause of e-cigarettes in India described the step as a regressive one, and said it would shut safer options for 11 crore Indian smokers.

In a statement issued here, the Association of Vapers India (AVI) said the ordinance set back initiatives taken by various stakeholders in promoting tobacco harm reduction by decades.

“The government may be patting its back for banning e-cigarettes but this is a draconian move considering the risk to the health of crores of smokers. On one hand we talk about transitioning from a developing to developed nation but on the other we are closing our doors to new technology that has been embraced globally by governments and used by millions worldwide to quit smoking,” said Samrat Chowdhery, AVI director, in the statement.