China’s State Administration for Market Regulation and State Tobacco Monopoly Administration jointly issued a circular on Friday, asking all electronic cigarette makers and distributors to shut down their sales websites and apps to protect teenagers from being harmed.
These authorities also demanded e-commerce platforms to shut down e-cigarette stores and urged makers and distributors to recall associated advertisements on the internet.
In an explanation to this circular, these two government administration offices added that they will also ban illegal e-cigarette production activities, but did not define which companies are considered illegal.
This circular was issued following a total of 37 death cases and 1,800 lung injury events related to e-cigarettes in the United States, according to the explanation.
This sudden announcement may prompt a destructive blow to e-cigarette makers and investors behind them.
RELX, one of the largest e-cigarette makers in China, responded to the circular quickly, saying via its WeChat public account on Friday that it will strictly follow the new demand, and adding that it has never promoted its products to teenagers.
The company said it will also withdraw their advertisements on the internet as required, adding that it will monitor its offline sales channels, such as brick-and-mortar stores and self-vending machines, to make sure they will only serve adults by adopting technologies like AI-powered identity recognition.