Nicotine is now a class A poison in Karnataka
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To strengthen enforcement of the ban on production and sale of electronic cigarettes, the State government has amended the Karnataka Poisons (Possession and Sale) Rules 2015, notifying nicotine as Class A poison under the rules.

Highly toxic chemicals, which even in very small quantities as gas or vapour in the air are dangerous to life (such as cyanogen, hydrocyanic acid, nitrogen peroxide, and phosgene), are notified under Class A. A gazette notification was published last month and the new rules are now called the Karnataka Poisons (Possession and Sale) Rules 2019.

Electronic cigarettes are small battery-operated devices that vapourise liquid nicotine to provide the same experience as smoking tobacco.

Although the Karnataka government had banned the sale and production of e-cigarettes in June 2016, illegal sale and smuggling of nicotine cartridges and e-cigarettes are rampant in the State. They are often marketed as a way to cut down or cut out cigarette smoking altogether and sold as aids to quit smoking.

The ban was imposed after a study by the State Health Department and experts that showed that e-cigarettes encourage the younger generation to use conventional cigarettes. While use of two milligrams of nicotine is permitted only in chewable chocolates to help with de-addiction, e-cigarette manufacturers misuse this clause for their sale.

The ban — invoking sections of Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Food Safety Act — also ordered the suspension of all kinds of promotion of e-cigarettes, including online promotion.

“Despite this, we find that illegal sale of e-cigarettes is rampant in the State. The Cybercrime police recently issued notices to e-commerce platforms cautioning them that they cannot sell e-cigarettes online. Also customs officials have been seizing nicotine cartridges and e-cigarettes from people flying into Karnataka from outside,” said U.S. Vishal Rao, member of the State government’s High-Powered Committee on Tobacco Control.

“Nicotine is used as a direct substance in e-cigarettes and the content ranges up to 36 mg/mL. Although regular cigarettes too have nicotine, it is in the range of 1.2 to 1.4 mg/mL,” Dr. Rao explained.

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