National standards for e-cigarettes to take effect on October 1
Dubbed as an access threshold for the industry, mandatory national standards for e-cigarettes will go into effect on October 1.
The standards stipulate that the nicotine concentration in e-cigarettes should not be higher than 20mg/g, and the total amount of nicotine should not be higher than 200mg. The amount of impurities and pollutants in atomization, such as heavy metals and arsenic, are also strictly limited.
Electronic cigarettes must also have protection functions to prevent the devices from being turned on by a child or by accident.
All fruit-flavored electronic cigarettes will be banned. The national unified e-cigarette trading management platform only provides tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes.
According to a latest notice issued by the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, any entity engaging in the production and operation of e-cigarettes must obtain a tobacco monopoly license and carry out production and operation activities in strict accordance with various supporting policies and regulations.
Publishing e-cigarette advertisements in the mass media or public places, on public transportation and outdoors will be prohibited, as will any form of e-cigarette advertising to minors.
E-cigarette sales outlets will not be allowed around primary and secondary, special education, secondary vocational or specialized schools, as well as kindergartens.
In recent years, due to regulatory gaps, the e-cigarette industry has seen disorderly development, with some products reporting problems such as unclear nicotine content and tobacco tar leakage, Xinhua news agency reported.
"China has the world's largest population of smokers and is the largest producer and consumer of tobacco," said Jiang Yuan, former director of the tobacco control office at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC).
Adolescent exposure to tobacco is an integral reason for the growing ranks of Chinese smokers, and some stationery shops near primary and secondary schools have sold e-cigarettes to students under the table.
According to a survey released by China CDC in 2019, almost 70 percent of junior high students had heard of e-cigarettes, and the usage rate among the group was 2.7 percent, up 24.9 percentage points and 1.5 percentage points, respectively, from 2014.
Based on a report on the health hazards of smoking in 2020, Xiao Dan, director of the center for tobacco epidemiology and smoking cessation at China-Japan Friendship Hospital, said there is sufficient evidence showing e-cigarettes are unhealthy.
"The use of e-cigarettes, especially among young people, can adversely affect brain development," Xiao said. "Studies have shown that it will also increase the risks of cardiovascular and lung diseases."
The e-cigarette national standards formulation plan was issued in October 2017. After online publicity, drafting, soliciting opinions, reviewing and approval, the national standards were officially released on April 12.