A pedestrian walks by a neon sign advertising Juul e-cigarettes on Tuesday in San Francisco. (Photo: VCG)
Three days after Chinese regulators banned online sales of e-cigarettes, the Global Times found these products remained available on several e-commerce platforms on Monday, with some vendors claiming still awaiting specific instructions.
The State Tobacco Monopoly Administration (STMA) and the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) jointly issued a notice on Friday, banning the sale of tobacco products to teenagers. The agencies urged e-commerce platforms to closely monitor online vendors of such products.
But as of Monday, the products remained available on some online shopping platforms including Chinese e-commerce giants JD and Tmall, with promotions being offered for the upcoming Double 11 shopping spree on November 11.
The online store on Tmall for Relx, a Chinese e-cigarette maker, showed no signs of closing and Double 11 promotions were prominently displayed.
When asked about the ban, a salesperson said that "the company is waiting for specific notices [about the ban] and is discussing the relevant solutions, please be patient. As for the Double 11 event, we haven't received any notification yet, and sales are going on as usual."
On the online store on JD for MOTI, another maker and vendor of e-cigarettes, the situation was similar.
"We are closely watching the situation. If we receive any further instruction from the platform [JD], we will immediately implement it," a customer service employee said when a Global Times reporter, posing as a customer, asked about the ban. "We don't sell to teenagers," the person added.
But when the reporter tried to place an order, which was only available via the company's app, there was no specific age check, only a reminder that teenagers should not buy such products.
As of press time, online shopping platforms including JD did not reply to the Global Times.
According to a study of China's e-cigarette market by askci.com, a business consulting website, most e-cigarettes sales in China are made through online platforms, such as e-commerce sites, social networks, online streaming and e-cigarette companies' own websites.
According to the report, China is the world's biggest e-cigarette maker with 90 percent of the global supply.
The market size was more than 10 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) in 2017, and it is still growing.
As e-cigarette companies often advertise their products as devices that can help people quit smoking tobacco products, e-cigarettes have become popular globally.
But as concerns rise about harmful, undisclosed chemical components, especially in vaping devices, bans are being imposed around the world.
According to the Chinese regulators' notification this year, there have been 37 deaths related to e-cigarette use, as well as more than 1,800 cases of lung damage in the US.
In August 2018, China banned the sale of vaping products to those aged under 18. But the ban hasn't been effective because the devices are still sold online.
The joint notification said that vendors should not sell e-cigarettes to teenagers.
"A complement to traditional tobacco products, such as cigarettes, e-cigarettes pose greater health and safety risks especially to minors," an official with the STMA told the Xinhua News Agency.