Vapers in China have reportedly been stocking up on flavored liquids in anticipation of a ban. A staff member at a RELX store in Shanghai told Sixth Tone that his shop had seen an increased demand for flavored pods since the government announcement, with grape and cola-flavored varieties selling out almost instantly.
On March 11, the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration published the final “Management Rules for E-cigarettes,” which includes a ban on domestic sales of nontobacco-flavored e-cigarettes. The rules are scheduled to take effect May 1.
The move was welcomed by anti-vaping groups such as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which said the rule would help prevent children from becoming smokers. “Children who use e-cigarettes are more than twice as likely to use cigarettes in the future, according to the World Health Organization,” said Yolonda Richardson, executive vice president for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in a statement. “China’s new policy is the right move to protect Chinese kids from these addictive products.”
The flavor ban is part of a long list of new requirements for the vaping business. China’s new rules also ban refillable products and synthetic nicotine while limiting the strength of e-liquid to 20 mg/mL.
Manufacturers, wholesalers and Chinese retailers will be required to conduct all business on a “unified national electronic cigarette transaction management platform,” and exports will be restricted to vapor products allowed in the destination countries.
The new rules will force e-cigarette sellers like RELX to sell competitors’ brands in their Chinese stores—something they don’t do currently.
With more than 300 smokers, China remains the world’s largest cigarette market, representing considerable potential for vapor companies. The country’s domestic e-cigarette market has grown at a rate of 70 percent a year since 2013, according to the Global Times, and is valued at about $1.3 billion.
China exports $15.6 billion of vaping products annually, according to the Shanghai Daily.