New Chinese e-cigarette regulations spark heated debate

The 5th International Electronic Cigarette Industry Summit is held in Shenzhen, December 17, 2021. / CGTN

The 5th International Electronic Cigarette Industry Summit is held in Shenzhen, December 17, 2021. / CGTN

Electronic cigarette makers have donated their two cents, after China expanded its tobacco monopoly law last month to include vaping devices.

On December 2, the National Tobacco Monopoly Administration (STMA) released a draft “Administrative Measures for Electronic Cigarettes“, which subjects electronic cigarettes to the same regulations as traditional cigarettes. The administration seeks public opinion on the regulation of the growing industry.

Lively discussions are underway among more than 1,000 attendees at the 5th International Electronic Cigarette Industry Summit held in Shenzhen, where most of China’s electronic cigarette factories are located, on Friday.

“Soliciting opinions on revisions to the tobacco monopoly law and regulating the e-cigarette market should be beneficial for the entire industry. Because it has been given a clear identity, it can be considered as emerging, ”said Wang Ning, chairman of the China Chamber of Electronic Commerce.

Wang Ning, chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Electronic Commerce, delivers a speech at the 5th International Electronic Cigarette Industry Summit in Shenzhen, southern China’s Guangdong Province, December 17, 2021. / CGTN

Wang Ning, chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Electronic Commerce, delivers a speech at the 5th International Electronic Cigarette Industry Summit in Shenzhen, southern China’s Guangdong Province, December 17, 2021. / CGTN

Wang added that for the government, all industries need better management, and the management of the industry needs to be standardized.

But John Dunne, Managing Director of the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), said: “I think the legislation in its current form will have a huge influence on the industry both nationally and internationally, but not in the industry. common sense.”

“Some parts of the legislation are vague and unclear and I hope they will be clarified later in the process,” Dunne said, adding that UKVIA and several other organizations have outlined their concerns and suggestions in a letter to the STMA.

China’s electronic cigarette industry has exploded over the past two decades, with the early players enjoying unrestricted access to the world’s largest smoking population.

At least 95% of electronic cigarettes in the world are made in China. But the penetration rate of electronic cigarettes in China is lower than that of other countries like the United States and the United Kingdom.

John Dunne, Managing Director of the UK Vaping Industry Association, speaks via video link at the 5th International Electronic Cigarette Industry Summit held in Shenzhen, southern China, December 17, 2021. / CGTN

John Dunne, Managing Director of the UK Vaping Industry Association, speaks via video link at the 5th International Electronic Cigarette Industry Summit held in Shenzhen, southern China, December 17, 2021. / CGTN

According to Chinese data analysis firm iiMedia Research, the penetration rate of electronic cigarettes in China has reached 1.5% this year. In the United States, Great Britain and Japan, the rates are above 30%.

Will the new regulations affect the exports of an industry with enormous growth potential?

The new legislation is “particularly important because markets like the UK, Europe and the US already have strong regulations in place anyway that these products must follow,” Dunne said. But he also warned of the risk of unnecessary burdens and expenses forcing some companies to move production out of China.

Electronic cigarette manufacturers discuss the future of the electronic cigarette industry at the 5th International Electronic Cigarette Industry Summit in Shenzhen, south China on December 17, 2021. / CGTN

Electronic cigarette manufacturers discuss the future of the electronic cigarette industry at the 5th International Electronic Cigarette Industry Summit in Shenzhen, south China on December 17, 2021. / CGTN

But some companies remain confident in the future, saying they will not pull their factories out of China.

“Before 1982, there were around 500 to 600 tobacco companies engaged in the production and sale of cigarettes. It could get very chaotic at the time,” said Li Bo, president of Shenzhen Cloupor Technology. Some negative things such as counterfeit cigarettes, overcapacity and poorly regulated market competition would harm China’s tobacco industry, Li added.

Wang Shenyi, president of Shenzhen Shikai Technology, called on his peers to “consider the next management measures or national standards so as not to restrict the development of the industry, but to better supervise and regulate the market to make it healthier. and better in the long run. “

The solicitation for public comments on the draft regulation will end on January 29. Authorities say they welcome all opinions in a bid to normalize the e-cigarette industry and protect public health and safety under the rule of law.

(Cover image: Electronic cigarettes on display at a shopping mall in Shanghai, east China, August 26, 2021. / CFP)

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