China nixes online e-cigarette sales to limit youth smoking

China's tobacco regulator requested the shutdown of all online stores that sell electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) products on Friday to prevent minors from purchasing the products online.

The notice comes not long after online platforms and retailers in the US launched similar takedowns amid government scrutiny toward vaping's effect on public health.

The notice, which was dated October 30, was published one day later on the website of state monopoly China Tobacco, which is overseen by the country's tobacco regulator.

The notice follows broad efforts to limit e-cigarette sales to minors in the NY and other states, and amid an global scare about the health effects of vaping. China has the world's biggest population of smokers at more than 300 million.

Chinese startups trying to get a portion of the enormous potential market for e-cigarettes have launched products similar to Juul, the popular U.S. e-cigarette company that's caught significant criticism for marketing flavored smokes to kids.

The decision comes amid a crackdown on electronic cigarettes taking place in the U.S., where the issue is two-fold: there's an ongoing investigation to uncover the cause of a deadly lung condition manifesting in some vapers, plus the FDA is working to get most flavored vaping products pulled from sale.

RELX Technology, founded by former employees of Uber China, and SnowPlus, founded by a team of former bitcoin entrepreneurs, are among the Chinese market leaders.

The companies now operate in a regulatory grey area in China, as no national-level rules exist that provide standards for the safe manufacture and sale of nicotine salt-based e-cigarettes. The unit also generates almost 6% of the country's total tax revenue, according to government figures.

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