E-cigarette market and regulatory landscape in China
China is responsible for more than 90% of the world’s e-cigarette production and there are over 4,000 companies in the country manufacturing e-cigarettes. Although this number is large, the majority of these companies export up to 90% of their products to other countries while keeping 10% for the domestic market.
We estimate online accounts for around 80% of the total market in China. The remaining offline market consists of sales through vape stores, which are declining in number, with a small percentage of sales through mainstream retail channels.
Currently, the only effective legal frameworks that apply to e-cigarette products are those on general manufacturing and consumer products, such as the Product Quality Law of the People’s Republic of China and the Law on Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests. Vaping products are not subject to any product-specific regulation.
Little progress has been made on the forthcoming national e-cigarette standard project since our last report in April 2020. This is essentially a technical harmonisation of vapour products as most of its provisions address technical specifications. The standard should have been adopted by October 2019 according to the date indicated by the committee, however, no developments have been seen or disclosed. The standard is still awaiting the approval on the national public service platform.
While some proposals have been put forward in the summer of 2020, including a bill that reached the public comment stage over restricting public usage, no legislation restricting usage has been passed yet.
Lastly, several voluntary association standards and local standards for both e-cigarettes and e-liquids have been brought. According to the latest standardisation law of China, the local standard and association standards are voluntary, so they do not impose any compulsory obligations on manufacturers.