China to introduce an E-Liquid flavour ban

china town

China set to ban flavoured E-Liquid other than tobacco

The case of China banning flavours in vape juice, as well as other things has been an ongoing topic for the last 18 months, with more things added to the original legislations, as well as constant revisions to it as well, but it looks like it is finally reached finalisation and enforcement of these new legislations coming on October 1st 2022. The legislation has received worldwide criticism for how it has been handled, and what the legislation contains and means for the future of Vaping in China.

November 2021: China brings E-Cigarette regulation in-line with traditional cigarette Regulation

On March 22nd 2021, China announced they had plans to regulate E-Cigarette usage in the country to be in line with the regs of traditional cigarettes. It’s widely believed this was to try and curb the fast growing industry, due to the popularity of Disposable vape devices reaching unseen heights and China being the country where they all are primarily manufactured.

E-Cigarettes had previously been forbidden from being sold online in the country in November 2019, but this wasn’t enough and they decided to impose even further restrictions.

Fast forward to November 2021, and China formally announced that the control and regulations would fall in-line with the regulations of Cigarettes. China’s tobacco industry is run by a Government monopoly, formally known as State Tobacco Monopoly Administration (STMA) where they have strict control on who can produce and distribute cigarettes within the country, and now, this applies to e-cigarette manufacturers.

The China Government begins weighing in on Vaping

Less than two weeks after announcing the STMA will be in control of Vaping regulations, they issued draft rulings that manufacturers must meet specific design and production standards for all e-cigarettes wanting to be sold on the market. An almost instant impact that could potentially spell disaster for the USA and European markets who heavily rely on the Chinese exporting of E-Cigarettes manufactured within their country.

The draft regulations documented that all E-Cigarettes manufactured in the country must not be refillable and tamper proof, with the maximum nicotine strength being regulated to 20mg, which is the same as here in the UK under the TPD regulations. This caused massive concern in the USA and European markets, as it was unclear if the regulations of devices being non refillable only applied to products being sold on the Chinese market, or if it applied to the exported products from China, of which the worldwide markets heavily depend on. This however turned out to only apply to devices sold within the country of China, and the worldwide vaping market breathed a sigh of relief.

banned eliquid

A revision to the rules adds more in

Moving forward to March 2022, and the government releases it’s final draft of legislations which featured the above mentioned, but also included the banning of products containing non-tobacco flavours being domestically sold. The ruling of banning flavours was a bid to protect Chinese children from exposure to addictive products that are being marketed with delicious sounding flavours.

This sent shockwaves through the vaping industry in China, and caused some serious upset to specific manufactuers. RELX, who are one of China’s leading E-Cigarette brands suffered a 15% drop in stock prices on the New York stock exchange, and these rulings would mean their flagship stores would have to resort to selling other “rival” companies brands of tobacco only e-cigarettes just to survive and keep in profit.

The rules were due to be imposed on May 1st, but it was decided this wasn’t enough time for proper consideration and debate from others, therefore the Government decided to delay the rulings from coming into effect until October 1st 2022.

The Flavour ban and what it means for China and the Vaping Industry

China is set to become the next country to officially ban all flavours of E-Liquid other than tobacco effective from October 1st 2022.

This has caused a massive ripple effect in the country of China, with Vapers frantically scrambling to buy and “stockpile” flavoured vape juices, and refillable vaping devices to ensure they are sufficiently stocked up.

Whilst it’s confirmed that this will definitely apply to domestic sales, it’s still unclear if this will apply to the exporting of vaping products to other countries, such as the USA or us here in the UK.

STMA’s stronghold they have imposed on Vaping has definitely shown in China, with manufacturers now having to get clearance from STMA and obtain a licence to be able to sell and manufacture Vaping products in the country that adhere to their guidelines.

Prior to the STMA’s takeover of the reigns, there were over 170,000 businesses registered in China that either sold or manufactured Vaping products. As of August 6th 2022, 190 manufacturers and 55,000 Retailers had received an STMA licence. This could be that companies are looking to bow out of the Industry due to the new regulations being imposed.

The flavour ban isn’t as harsh as some other Asian regions rulings  

Whilst there might not be a lot of positives that come out of new rulings in China, one saving grace is that it’s not as harsh as rulings in other Asian regions.

Both Macau and Hong Kong have completely banned the sales and import of Vaping products within the last year, and both have no interest in changing these rulings. If China did follow suit of their neighbouring regions, it could signal the end of the Vaping industry as we know it.

I’ve written an article that details the rules and regulations on Vaping around the world, which you can read HERE

Nearly all the Vaping devices that are sold globally are manufactured in China, and if a stop was put to them being exported out of the country, the Vaping industry could potentially collapse. It’s just crazy to think it could happen with a metaphorical click of the fingers by the Chinese government, let’s just hope that this stays as a thought and not becoming a reality.

Sources:

China brings e-cigarettes under tobacco monopoly law | Reuters

China mulls bringing e-cigarette regulation in line with traditional tobacco products | Reuters

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