China on Friday amended its tobacco monopoly law 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 Web site and signed off by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強), takes effect immediately.
A number of Chinese e-cigarette companies have been set up in the past few years to tap into domestic sales potential, among them market leader RLX Technology Inc (霧芯科技).
Warning: Smoking can damage your health
RLX said on WeChat that it would heed the rules and make required changes.
Chinese regulators in March 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 had previously been in a regulatory gray area.
China’s tobacco industry is controlled entirely by a government monopoly, and strict controls determine which companies and retailers can produce and sell cigarettes.
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.
Separately, the Chinese State Administration for Market Regulation proposed new rules that would increase online advertising oversight, including stipulating that advertisements should not affect normal Internet use or mislead users.
This year, Chinese authorities have tightened regulation across a range of industries, with an emphasis on technology.
Internet advertising must “meet the requirements for the establishment of socialist spiritual civilization and the promotion of excellent traditional culture of the Chinese nation,” the agency said.
The proposed rules call on platforms to establish a system for registering and reviewing advertisers and adverts, and “monitor and inspect the content of advertisements displayed and published by using its information services.”
The proposed rules also call for bans on advertisements aimed at minors promoting medical treatments, cosmetics and online games “that are not conducive to the physical and mental health of minors.”
The proposed rules are open for public comment until Dec. 25, the agency said on its Web site.
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