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Persecution in Punjab

The police in India have charged four sellers with criminal counts of selling tobacco products for selling electronic cigarettes, according to the Hindustan Times.

India is engaged in a campaign to rid the country of all tobacco, and they have decided to classify e-cigs as illegal tobacco products. The only products that may legally contain nicotine in the country are NRTs.

The legal actions were taken in the state of Punjab, which has already declared 20 regions to be "tobacco free". Two vendors in the Ludhiana District were booked for the offense, and one each in the Hoshiarpur District and the Mohali District, according to an official spokesperson, Hussan Lal.

The law outlawing tobacco, and classifying nicotine-containing e-liquid as tobacco, is contained the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

State Drug Controller of Punjab, Ajay Singla, called nicotine e-liquid a "lethal and addictive chemical", which may be marketed only as a gum or a lozenge, in concentrations of 2 mg. or 4 mg. "Every other product which contained nicotine is illegal," announced Singla.

However, it would appear that the law is not being uniformly enforced nationwide, so some citizens of India, outside of Punjab, anyway, are still able to obtain vaping products without penalty.

Rakesh Gupta, the Program Officer for the State Tobacco Control Cell of Punjab, announced that "Punjab is the only state where implementation of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, Food Safety & Standard Act of India and Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) was being monitored monthly at state level."

The Indian state of Punjab (distinct from Pakistani Punjab) is located in the north, and is the only state in India with a majority Sikh population. Sikhs are a group separate from the Hindus of India and the Muslims of neighboring Pakistan. The capital of Pakistan, Lahore, is in Pakistani Punjab, just across the border from Indian Punjab. Hoshiarpur, Indian Punjab's largest city, is centrally located, while Ludhiana is in the north, and the state's capital, Chandigarh, artificially built in 1960, during the period of population reassortment by religion, is a smaller city to the east.