Monday 23 September 2019

Monitoring platforms to ensure sellers don't offer e-cigarettes: E-commerce firms

Monitoring platforms to ensure sellers don't offer e-cigarettes: E-commerce firms 

New Delhi: E-commerce majors Flipkart and Amazon on Thursday said they are monitoring their platforms to ensure sellers do not offer e-cigarettes to comply with the government's ban on such cigarettes in the country.

The government has issued an Ordinance to ban e-cigarettes, making the production, import, export, transport, sale or advertisements of such "alternative" smoking devices a cognisable offence attracting jail term and fine.

US-based e-commerce giant Amazon said products listed for sale on are owned and/or sold by such third-party sellers, and the sellers are themselves responsible for compliance with all applicable laws.

"Tobacco products, including Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS), commonly known as electronic cigarette/ e-cigarettes, are not allowed to be listed or sold on as per Amazon policy," it said in a statement.

The statement added that has certain checks in place to ensure restricted and prohibited products do not get listed, and sellers are educated regarding the same.

"However, in case sellers list such products evasively and the same is brought to our knowledge, delists such products and takes appropriate enforcement action against such sellers," it added.

A Flipkart spokesperson said the company was aware of the Ordinance and had immediately alerted its teams to work with sellers to remove all such products off the platform.

"We will continue to monitor the listings to ensure that these products are not available on the platform," the spokesperson added.

According to the Ordinance, first-time violators will face a jail term of up to one year or a fine of Rs 1 lakh, or both. Subsequent offences will attract a jail term of up to three years or a fine of Rs 5 lakh, or both.

The storage of e-cigarettes shall now be punishable with imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to Rs 50,000 or both.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said the Cabinet had decided to ban e-cigarettes and similar products as they pose health risk to people, especially the youth.

However, e-cigarettes promoting trade bodies, users and other stakeholders slammed the government's move to ban "alternative" smoking device through the Ordinance route, alleging it was a "draconian" step taken in haste to protect the conventional cigarette industry.

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