China tightens controls on e-cigarettes in world’s largest tobacco market

China amended its tobacco monopoly law on Friday to include e-cigarettes, stepping up regulation of the fast-growing vaping industry in the world’s largest tobacco market.

The cabinet order, published on the Chinese government’s website and signed off by Premier Li Keqiang, comes into effect immediately.

In recent years, a number of Chinese ecigarette companies were established to capitalize on domestic sales. Among them is market leader RLX Technology Inc.

Chinese regulators had in March this year flagged plans to bring the rules governing the sale of e-cigarettes and other new tobacco products into line with those for ordinary cigarettes.

They were previously in an area of regulatory gray.

China’s tobacco industry is controlled entirely via a government monopoly, and strict controls determine which companies and retailers can produce and sell cigarettes.

A quality control worker checks an e-cigarette pod at a factory in China
China has strict regulations regarding which retailers and companies can sell and produce cigarettes. It is also doing so with e-cigarette and vaping firms.
Getty Images
Exterior of an RELX e-cigarette shop in China
China has banned the sale and purchase of e-cigarettes by minors since 2018; online sales have been prohibited in the year following.
Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The government outlawed the sale of e-cigarettes to minors in 2018 and banned online sales the following year, while Chinese state media have warned of the health and safety risks of using the products.

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