Xinhua News Agency, an official media of Chinese government, on Wednesday issued a document highlighting the necessity to prohibit e-cigarettes from being used by minors. As a result, many e-cigarette concept stocks listed on the A-share market were among the top losers at the opening, especially RELX Technology, an e-cigarette giant also listed in the US, having closed down by 4.95%.
Despite the current regulation prohibiting e-cigarette use by minors, the new report by Caijing found that, although some physical stores had been labeled “no minors allowed to use”, the actual sale told another story as clerks turned a blind eye, never asking nor checking the ID of the buyer.
Many countries and regions have taken at least one of the following measures: no e-cigarettes in public area, no ads or promotion of e-cigarettes, and health warnings on e-cigarette packages.
In recent years, China has upgraded its oversight of e-cigarettes and their use. In July this year, Sichuan issued the first fine to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, while Jiangxi also recently issued its first fine for advertising e-cigarettes.
Yet, e-cigarettes are still harming the health of minors. The results of the 2019 China Secondary School Students Tobacco Survey released by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the proportion of middle school students who have heard of e-cigarettes in early 2019 is 69.9% and the rate of e-cigarette use is 2.7%, up 24.9 percentage points and 1.5 percentage points, respectively, compared with that of 2014. The proportion of senior high school students is even higher.
Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes seem harmless and the trendy thing to do. Street ads displaying the product seem to convey a message that e-cigarettes are not harmful and are fashionable. More and more young people have been drawn to e-cigarettes, with some teenagers eager to try them.
“E-cigarettes have potential safety hazards for minors, so we should further intensify the crackdown on selling e-cigarettes to minors,” said Fu Jia, director of the Minor Protection Professional Committee of Tianjin Lawyers Association.