According to foreign reports, ITC limited, an Indian tobacco company, announced that it would produce nicotine and nicotine salts and export them to countries that are allowed to sell e-cigarettes and oral nicotine products (such as nicotine bags).
Nicotine processing will be performed by a new ITC subsidiary, ITC indivision limited.
ITC has obtained regulatory approval and invested $6.7 million in the joint venture, according to the economic times. Even before ITC launched its nicotine business, India was a major supplier of pharmaceutical grade nicotine to the rest of the world.
Ironically, e-cigarettes users and smokers in India will not be able to obtain legal products using purified nicotine produced by ITC because the Indian government banned the use of e-cigarette products two years ago. More ironically, the government is the main stakeholder of ITC.
India banned the sale, manufacture, import, export and promotion of all e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products in September 2019. Offenders can be fined a large amount, or even jailed for repeated offences.
The ban seems to be working, and many e-cigarette users in India are re using cigarettes.
When India banned e-cigarettes, e-cigarette activists quickly pointed out that the government owned 28.5% of ITC limited.
In fact, the only major stakeholder in the $25 billion company is British American tobacco, which controls 29.4%. This makes the Indian government cooperate with the world's second largest tobacco company and become a huge beneficiary of cigarette sales.
ITC is the main cigarette seller in the world's second most populous country. India has nearly 1.4 billion people, of whom more than 110 million smoke - almost four times as many as the United States.
This is a strange place for a country that bans e-cigarette products on the advice of the WHO and its partners funded by Bloomberg. The who's tobacco control agency, the Framework Convention on tobacco control (FCTC), is constantly warning about its so-called interference with the tobacco industry, but FCTC is largely silent about the problems of state-owned tobacco companies.
Other FCTC countries that own tobacco companies include Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia and Vietnam. Many FCTC members with tobacco companies have e-cigarette bans or restrictions, and often ban other low-risk nicotine products.
Dr. harsh vardhan, India's former health minister, was specially recognized by the World Health Organization on World No Tobacco Day this year for his valuable leadership role in accelerating tobacco control efforts in India. It was not mentioned at the ceremony that the government represented by Vardan was the main stakeholder of India's largest tobacco company.