As the electronic cigarette market grows and matures in China, Beijing is reviewing regulations to address varied health concerns.
At a press conference last month, the head of the health authority, Mao Qunan, informed media that the Chinese National Health Commission had commenced research into vaping and its associated health risks. The multitude of Chinese owned and operated vaping manufacturers that have cropped up recently have so far been running with little to no input from the health professionals.
Crunchbase collected data tells us that China has seen a boom in e-cigarette start-up companies in the last 12 months. In 2019 alone, at least 20 different vaping companies have raised significant early stage funds, all of them scrambling to get the biggest piece of the pie in what is easily the world’s biggest market of smokers.
Chinese e-cigarette companies vary from barely known, hole-in-the-wall laboratories that have recently suffered legal barrage from large industry player Juul whom is contemplating entering the Chinese market themselves - according to Tech Crunch, to well funded venture backed companies in Shenzhen - China’s tech capital.
Every one of theses participants, big and small, are essentially battling it out against China Tobacco, who currently provide substantial tax revenues.
Research on the harm of vaping is mixed, while research tends to support the use of e-cigarettes for adults trying to quit smoking, it is shown to be as addictive as combustible tobacco - without the cancer causing chemicals. Mao said that the devices themselves are a potential health hazard, with some researchers stating that “harmful substances” are produced when a vape pen heats up and cases of battery explosions in devices are a concern. He also went on to outline that ambiguous labeling of nicotine levels can deceive smokers.
The bigger issue however, for regulators, is the cases of teenagers taking up vaping. Both US and Chinese regulators are concerned about vaping among people under the age of 18. The nicotine in the e-cigarettes is addictive and this is a reason for the Chinese government to keep tabs and instill regulations on the vaping industry.
China collated a rough set of standards in May, which specified the levels of nicotine, the types of additives in the E-Liquid and the acceptable designs for batteries in E-Liquid devices and similar devices but there’s still a while to go.