Could China, where most of the world’s e-cigarettes are made, actually be considering banning them?
It could have major global repercussions for the whole vaping industry – and so, potentially, for levels of smoking – if it did.
A gradual move towards a total e-cig ban was among the proposals put forward at the so-called Two Sessions in Beijing – gatherings of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National People’s Congress (NPC) that are considered to be the country’s most important annual political meetings, laying out the government’s agenda for the year ahead.
However, a proposal is not a firm policy, and this one has certainly raised eyebrows, not least because of where it came from.
Educated at the University of Arkansas in the US, a globetrotter who was described in 2017 as “a freshly-minted billionaire”, Ding Lieming is no average representative of the people in a country still nominally Communist.
And it has been pointed out that his call for an e-cig ban may not be entirely disinterested, since his fortune is built on the company he founded, Beda Pharmaceutical, which specialises in the development of treatments for lung cancer. It was noted that he did not propose banning traditional tobacco products.
That, of course, would be a practical impossibility in a country of around 1.4bn people, where according to World Health Organization (WHO) figures 47.6% of males over the age of 15 smoke.
It would be no simple matter, either, to eradicate vaping from a land where ECigIntelligence estimates there are 3m vapers (though that, of course, is a tiny proportion of the overall population) and where more than 90% of the world’s e-cigarettes are made.
Rumours, proposals and counter-proposals will continue to abound, however, until China does finally settle on a national regulatory regime for vapour products.