China Tobacco Pledge to Regulate Vape Industry under Law
Disclaimer: This article is translated from a Chinese article on Aug. 18, 2023, issued by a Chinese-state-owned press "法制日报". The translation is provided for reference only. The Chinese original text is the only authoritative source of information.
Recently, Zhang Jianmin, Secretary of the Party Group and Director of the National Tobacco Monopoly Administration, conducted research on the legalization and standardization of the e-cigarette industry in Shenzhen. Zhang pointed out that the Shenzhen Bureau Party Group has fully implemented the deployment requirements of the National Bureau Party Group, closely integrated with the actual situation of the Shenzhen e-cigarette industry, insisted on strengthening e-cigarette supervision according to the law, actively guided e-cigarette companies to operate legally, worked hard to standardize the e-cigarette market order, and promoted the governance of the Shenzhen e-cigarette industry to fully enter the legal and standardized track.
It is understood that since the "Decision of the State Council on Amending the 'Implementation Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Tobacco Monopoly Law'" (hereinafter referred to as the "Decision") was released in November 2021, the National Tobacco Monopoly Administration has efficiently realized the fundamental transformation of the e-cigarette market from lack of supervision to legal governance, from chaos to order, and from barbaric growth to strict management.
Say Goodbye to Barbaric Growth
"Previously, the supervision of e-cigarettes in China was almost in a blank state. E-cigarettes were neither classified as drugs nor medical devices nor were they formally included in tobacco. However, with the introduction of relevant regulations on e-cigarettes in China, it indicates that the e-cigarette industry may completely say goodbye to the 'barbaric growth' situation," Liu Wei, a lawyer from Beijing Yongwen Law Firm, told the "Legal Daily" reporter.
Liu Wei further stated that in November 2021, Article 65 of the State Council's "Decision" stipulated that e-cigarettes and other new tobacco products should refer to the relevant provisions of this regulation on cigarettes. This means that e-cigarettes are officially included in the tobacco system supervision.
From the perspective of other national provisions, the State Administration for Market Regulation and the National Tobacco Monopoly Administration announced the "Notice on Prohibiting the Sale of E-cigarettes to Minors" on August 28, 2018, to strengthen the social protection of minors' physical and mental health and required various market entities not to sell e-cigarettes to minors.
On April 8, 2022, the State Administration for Market Regulation approved the mandatory national standard for "Electronic Cigarettes," which will be implemented from October 1, 2022.
From the local level, for example, the "Shenzhen Special Economic Zone Smoking Control Regulations (Revised in 2019)" includes e-cigarettes in the scope of smoking control.
Based on the above, regarding the current state of national supervision of the e-cigarette industry (excluding heated tobacco products), Liu Wei believes that firstly, e-cigarettes are currently subject to the relevant provisions of cigarettes and have been included in the tobacco system supervision; since 2022, the country has formulated national mandatory standards for e-cigarettes; secondly, in the circulation field, the country has issued regulations prohibiting various market entities from selling e-cigarettes to minors and prohibited the sale of e-cigarettes through the Internet and specified the qualifications required for the production and sale of e-cigarettes; thirdly, in terms of advertising, the country prohibits e-cigarette production and sales companies or individuals from publishing e-cigarette advertisements on the Internet.
Standardizing Penalty Standards
It is understood that in order to standardize the implementation of tobacco monopoly administrative penalties, guarantee and supervise the effective implementation of administrative management by the Tobacco Monopoly Bureau, safeguard the national tobacco monopoly system, and protect the legitimate rights and interests of citizens, legal persons, or other organizations, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology recently revised and published the "Tobacco Monopoly Administrative Penalty Procedures Regulations" (hereinafter referred to as the "Regulations"), which came into effect on July 20, 2023, and is applicable to administrative penalties by tobacco monopoly administrations at all levels. The "Tobacco Monopoly Administrative Penalty Procedures Regulations" announced on January 21, 2010, was abolished simultaneously.
Recently, at a teleconference on implementing the "Tobacco Monopoly Administrative Penalty Procedures Regulations," Han Zhanwu, a member of the Party Group and Deputy Director of the National Tobacco Monopoly Administration pointed out that the newly revised "Regulations," revised according to the "Administrative Punishment Law of the People's Republic of China" revised in 2021 and combined with the actual work of tobacco monopoly law enforcement, are an effective implementation and supplement to the "Administrative Punishment Law of the People's Republic of China" in the field of tobacco monopoly administrative law enforcement. The regulations are more standardized and clear, the content is more scientific and complete, and they have strong guidance and operability.
It is worth noting that the main revisions in the "Regulations" emphasize improving administrative penalty execution and law enforcement supervision provisions. They clarify the procedure for deferred payment of fines, increase administrative law enforcement evaluation, assessment, and social supervision mechanisms, and at the same time strengthen accountability, including no law enforcement qualifications to carry out law enforcement and cases that meet the filing standards not filed in a timely manner into accountability. To implement the latest revised content of the "Tobacco Monopoly Law Implementation Regulations," it is clear that the administrative penalties for illegal acts of new tobacco products such as e-cigarettes apply to these regulations.
In Liu Wei's view, the practical significance of the "Regulations" amendment is twofold: first, it strengthens the legality and fairness of law enforcement procedures, clarifies the various links and procedural requirements of law enforcement, and strengthens administrative penalties for violations of the Tobacco Monopoly Law; second, it strengthens the accountability and supervision of the implementation of the law and makes administrative law enforcement more standardized and clear.
Summary: China's National Tobacco Administration is intensifying efforts to regulate the e-cigarette industry under the law, following Shenzhen's example in governance. The new regulatory framework reflects a shift from a lack of supervision to legal governance, protecting minors, and standardizing market operations. The country's revised "Tobacco Monopoly Administrative Penalty Procedures Regulations" further clarifies enforcement procedures and strengthens accountability in the e-cigarette industry.
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