The United States And China Restrict E-Cigarette Sales

The U.S. and China Take Measures Against the E-cigarette Industry

As health officials continue to sound alarms about the risks of e-cigarettes, the world’s two most powerful nations each took action within a span of one week to limit the proliferation of the devices within their borders. While e-cigarette companies encounter opposition from authorities in the United States, Juul Labs, Inc. is attempting to bring its products into China, home to the world’s largest population of smokers, but Chinese authorities don’t seem excited about the idea.

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In the United States, the Federal Government Will Ban Flavored E-cigarettes Nationwide

On September 11, the Secretary of Health and Human Services announced that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will formulate a new policy in the next few weeks which will force e-cigarette companies to stop selling all flavored vaping products. Under the new policy, which HHS Secretary Alex Azar discussed with reporters during a meeting with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, e-cigarette companies will be forbidden from marketing any flavors except tobacco for vaping devices. The new policy will therefore ban the sale of sweet, mint, and menthol flavors, all of which the CDC claims are most popular with children and teenagers. In May next year, e-cigarette companies will have the opportunity to submit their flavored products for FDA approval. Until then, the ban will be in force throughout the entire country, both in retail stores and online.

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These new rules represent the most drastic measures that the federal government has ever taken against vaping, and they follow reports of hundreds of cases of respiratory illness and over one hundred seizures in over thirty states this year which vaping may have caused.

The HHS Department and many doctors agree that young people are more likely than adults to develop nicotine addiction from vaping. In a statement after the announcement, Secretary Azar reaffirmed the government’s stance, saying “we will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth.” A spokesman for Juul, the largest e-cigarette company in America, confirmed that same day that Juul intends to follow the government’s new rules.

In China, Juul Cannot Sell E-Cigarettes Online

Three days before the United States federal government told e-cigarette companies to take their flavored products off the market, Juul opened for business in China. On September 9, the company started to advertise e-cigarettes to Chinese customers on two e-commerce platforms, Tmall and JD.com. More than 300 million people in China regularly smoke cigarettes, and they constitute the largest tobacco market in the world.

Juul has already entered markets in South Korea, Indonesia, and other Asian countries. However, in China, the government regulates the Internet, and a state-owned monopoly controls the nation’s tobacco industry. On September 17, Juul’s storefronts on Tmall and JD.com suddenly closed.

Since the Chinese government sponsors anti-smoking campaigns, it is possible that the country’s online regulators decided to shield Chinese consumers from Juul’s potentially dangerous products. However, China also restricts business competition from foreigners. As an American company, Juul would have competed against the state-owned monopoly and numerous Chinese e-cigarette companies for market share. No Chinese authority has offered an explanation for why Juul has apparently been barred from China.

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