Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Current Affairs - 2019

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Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Bill, 2019 passed by Parliament

The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage, and Advertisement) Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament on 3 December 2019. It was introduced in Lok Sabha by Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan. The Bill which seeks to prohibits the production, storage, trade, and advertisement of electronic cigarettes, replaces an Ordinance promulgated in September 2019.

Key Features of Bill

Electronic cigarettes: It defines electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes– as electronic devices that heat a substance, which may contain nicotine and other chemicals, to create vapour for inhalation as well as contain different flavours.

Banning of e-cigarettes: It prohibits production/ manufacture/ sale/ transport/ import/ export/ transport/ distribution/ advertisement of e-cigarettes in India.  Any person not adhering to this provision will be punishable with imprisonment of up to 1 year, or a fine of up to 1 lakh rupees, or both and for any subsequent offence, the person will be punishable with an imprisonment of up to 3 years, along with a fine of up to 5 lakh rupees.

Storage of e-cigarettes: No person is allowed to use any place for storage of any stock of e-cigarettes and in case, if any person stores any stock of it then the person will be punishable with an imprisonment of up to 6 months, or a fine of up to Rs.50000 (or both).

Authorised Officer: Once the Bill comes into force after presidential assent, then, the owners of existing stocks of e-cigarettes will have to declare and deposit these stocks at nearest office of an authorised officer, who may be, a police officer (at least at the level of a sub-inspector), or any other officer as notified by central/ state government.

Powers of authorised officers: If an authorised officer believes that any provision of the Bill has been contravened, he can search any place where production/ trade/ storage / advertising of e-cigarettes is being undertaken and can also seize any record/ property connected to e-cigarettes found during search.  He may also take the person connected with the offence into custody.

GoI to expand WHO’s 3S programme in the country

The Government of India will expand the 3S programme-Smart Safety Surveillance of WHO in the country. The expansion is being done to make sure the vaccines distributed under universal immunization programme are safe and also to optimize post-marketing surveillance of priority drugs.

3S Programme in India

The programme was introduced by WHO (World Health Organization) in India considering limited safety data on vaccines in the country.

Under 3S programme, India is currently evaluating rotavirus vaccines. The Government is also planning to collaborate the key stakeholders of the programme to ensure high levels of vigilance. The key stakeholders of 3S programme include Ministry of Health and Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO).

GoI will also expand the coverage of PCV (Pneumonal Conjugate Vaccine) to all states by 2022 under 3S programme.

Significance

According to ministry of Health and Family Welfare, often new medical products that enter Indian markets are with limited safety data from clinical trials. Also, they are pertinent to small controlled population and therefore difficult to track. Hence, it becomes essential to monitor post-marketing of immunization programmes.

The PCV project was launched in India in 2017. Even after 2 years, the Health ministry has not yet launched an impact study about the programme. Such shortcomings are to be addressed under the new expansion programme.

Also, it is essential to have impact evaluation of newly launched vaccines for further policy decisions.