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Tsinghua University research group publishes electronic cigarette blue paper: Industry entry regulation is imperative

The first blue book of electronic cigarette industry: Access regulation must be carried out


The first blue book of China’s e-cigarette industry, the Report on the Supervision of the E-cigarette Industry of the Research Report on Public Health and Technical Supervision (2019), was released on August 29, 2019 at the Multi-function Hall of Xiong Zhixing Building, Tsinghua University.

The blue paper was compiled by Tsinghua University‘s research group on Public Health and Technical Supervision. The materials were cited from WHO, FDA, EU Tobacco Directive, China Tobacco Journal and other authoritative sources of new electronic tobacco regulation in other countries and regions around the world. Over 5,000 publications and over 100,000 words are in the overall report.

E-cig Industry Supervision Situation Report
E-cig Industry Regulation Situation Report (2019)
Tsinghua University conducts research on public health and technical supervision respectively.

According to the team, this study searched 5277 publications worldwide from 2005 to 2019 through Web of Science, an excellent platform for browsing, analyzing and tracking academic research provided by Thomson Reuters, with the theme of e-cigarette. From the distribution, it is obvious that the number of studies on electronic cigarettes has increased by leaps and bounds since 2014, from 166 in the previous year to 406, and to 1139 in 2018. It is predictable that the number of e-cigarette research published in 2019 will not be lower than that in 2018.

“We are trying to objectively convey information about electronic cigarettes from two dimensions,” said Yan Fei, head of the research group and associate professor of sociology at Tsinghua University. “First, what is the impact of this electronic product on the human body? Second, what should the government do about this new fast-food product, which has huge market space and is in its infancy? How to carry on effective industry regulation.

Since Chinese pharmacist Han Li invented electronic cigarettes in 2003, the impact of this alternative to traditional cigarettes on the human body has been controversial. Just a week ago, domestic media reported that “the first case of e-cigarette death in the United States” had even appeared on the “hot search list” of microblogging, but traced the source of the incident to prove that it was only an incident under investigation, possibly related to marijuana smoking; another media reported that “e cig is more harmful than traditional cigarettes”. Vape smoke is 5 – 7 times dangerous than smoke, but no clinical studies have been cited in this paper. Whether in China, where electronic smoke has just risen, or in the United States, where penetration has reached 13%, the public is still puzzling of the harm of e-cig.

The blue paper quotes WHO’s authoritative content on e-cigarette research: In 2014, WHO presented a report to the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Tobacco Control at its sixth session, synthesizing existing research and expert opinions, summarizing the debate and evidence on e-cigarettes in the academic field. Finite property. Five years later, many of the conclusions of the 2014 report were retained in the WHO Global Tobacco Epidemic Report 2019, and the limitations of the evidence remained unchanged. Compared with traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are less harmful. If fixed smokers can completely replace cigarettes with well-regulated e-cigarettes, the smoker will be harmed less. E-cig is not harmless.


“But the good control mentioned in the report has not been achieved in China.” Yan Fei said, “According to our research, China’s electronic cigarette market is still in a period of barbaric growth, which is not conducive to the development of the industry.”

In 2017, China’s e-cigarette consumption reached 7.4 million people, and it is the largest producer (95% of the global share) and exporter (90% of the global share) of e-cigarette products in the world. It has the industry pricing power in the international market. The pursuit of capital has accelerated the formation of this outlet. At present, there are thousands of electronic cigarette enterprises in China. Almost every day, new brands are born. Some e-cigarette companies have been valued at more than $2 billion. At the same time, the industry has solved the employment problem of about 2 million people. In Shenzhen and Dongguan, Guangdong, many mobile phone and drone factories have been fully converted to electronic cigarettes.

But on the other hand, because of the lack of clear industry standards and regulatory mechanisms, some enterprises pursue short-term profits, their “pods” are not qualified, e-liquid leakage, battery quality is not up to standard, resulting in explosion and other harmful situations to consumers. “The threshold of the industry is very low, and there is even a saying that with one or two million yuan, people can make an electronic cigarette company. Some small manufacturers are going to make a quick buck, and they are not in place to control the research and development and quality of their products.” An insider said.

Therefore, the Blue Book strongly recommends the implementation of industry legislation and regulatory system. Specific strategies include: classified supervision of products – for example, nicotine-containing products in e-liquid are different from nicotine-free products such as “atomized e coffee“. The most common nicotine atomization systems on the market can be divided into batteries, atomization devive and pods, of which batteries and atomization device belong. Electronic products, which really contain nicotine, are pods, so they should be supervised according to the actual situation of the products. In addition, in the use scenario of production and sales, the whole process management should be carried out.

An industry insider said: when electronic technology and Internet technology are involved in the atomizer, enterprises can gradually master the production and sale of electronic cigarettes, as well as the groups using such products, and analyze their behavior habits. For example, through the face recognition technology of vending machine and the statistical technology of smoking frequency of electronic cigarettes, large data reports can be formed to achieve the purpose of smoking control. This is the so-called “technology changes social governance”.

In addition to the establishment of industry access system, the report specifically proposes that the purpose of regulation should be to improve the overall welfare of society as the primary objective, to protect the health of the majority of residents, and to form gradual, multi-subject participation in governance. In addition, it is the bottom line and conscience of the industry to let enterprises fulfill their social responsibility and stop selling electronic cigarettes to minors under the age of 18.

According to reporters, the legislation on electronic cigarettes is in the process of progress. Including the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the National Health Commission, the National Tobacco Monopoly Bureau and the State Administration of Market Supervision, and other departments are involved. The introduction date is likely to be at the end of this year. At that time, the industry will face a big shuffle, which is also the only way for China’s electronic cigarette to standardize and develop benignly.


Extracts of Golden Sentences from Blue Book:

1. At present, the academic research of electronic cigarettes has not reached the final conclusion.

2. Electronic cigarette does not burn, which reduces the content of harmful substances produced by combustion.

3. Electronic cigarettes does not harm other people with second-hand smoke, and conforms to the requirements of public smoking ban policy.

4. According to the WHO Global Tobacco Epidemic Report 2019, e-cigarettes are less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

5. It is imperative to establish an industry access system.

6. The primary goal of supervision is to improve the overall welfare of the society.

7. Electronic cigarettes are not suitable for the inclusion of national tobacco monopolies.

8. The blindly radical approach to the World Health Standards will inevitably deprive China’s electronic cigarette industry of its dominant position in the global industry.

9. Electronic cigarettes form the industrial pattern of “Made in China, consumed in Europe and America”.

10. The formulation of relevant policies does not have to wait until the exact results of the research are found.

11. At present, in the electronic cigarette industry, “bad money expels good money”, the value of high-quality enterprises and high-quality products can not be realized.

12. None of China’s e-cigarette industry, consumers and regulators is a “real winner”.

13. The legal regulation of electronic cigarettes in China will develop from “spark” to “conflagration”.

14. The national standard of electronic cigarette may be a benefit adjustment to the existing tobacco pattern.

15. The state monopoly mode of tobacco monopoly will inevitably damage the innovation ability and initiative of the private electronic cigarette industry.

16. Electronic cigarette supervision is a systematic project, which cannot be completed by a mandatory standard alone.

17. Electronic cigarettes should not be used as a reason for tobacco monopolies.

18. The supervision of electronic cigarettes should be rationally guided, not too radical.


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