Q1: What are the current policies on the e-cigarette industry in various regions around the world?
Costa Rica - allowed. Import, sales, and use are allowed and regulated as tobacco products. All transactions must verify age (only for adults aged 18 and above). Advertising is not allowed. Usage in public places is restricted.
Czech Republic - allowed. Import, sales, use, and sales of e-cigarettes are unrestricted.
Estonia - allowed.
European Union - allowed. Imports, sales, use, and advertising are allowed.
Germany - allowed. Imports, sales, and use are allowed. The highest courts of two states ruled that e-cigarettes and filled e-liquids are not medicinal products under the "Medicinal Products Act" or "Medical Device Act." Germany is one of the countries with the most lenient regulations on e-cigarettes, with only slight restrictions on advertising and no specific taxation on vaping, and no regulations on cross-border sales.
Indonesia - allowed. The Indonesian government has announced that it will impose taxes of up to 57% on non-tobacco alternatives, including e-cigarettes, from the summer of 2018.
Israel - allowed. Imports and sales are allowed.
Italy - allowed. Imports, sales, and use are unrestricted. Sales of e-cigarettes (only for e-liquids containing nicotine) to persons under 18 years of age are prohibited.
Ireland - allowed. Imports, sales, and use are allowed.
South Korea - allowed. E-cigarettes are considered tobacco products here and are subject to tobacco control legislation. The tax is high, and reports show that the retail price of e-cigarettes in South Korea is the highest in the world. HNB products are popular.
Latvia - allowed. E-cigarettes can be sold to persons aged 18 and above.
Malta - allowed. E-cigarettes are considered tobacco products, and sales and use are allowed, but e-cigarettes fall within the scope of the "Tobacco Act." They cannot advertise, cannot be used in enclosed public places, and can only be used by adults aged 18 and above.
Netherlands - allowed. Imports, sales, and use are allowed. The government attempted to ban them completely but was overturned in court: the Gravenhage Court in the Netherlands legalized the import and sale of e-cigarettes and e-liquids containing nicotine in a civil court case.
Poland - allowed. Imports, sales, and use are allowed.
Russia - allowed. Imports, sales, and use are allowed.
Tajikistan - allowed. Sales and use of e-cigarettes are currently unrestricted.
Ukraine - allowed, but with restrictions.
United Kingdom - allowed. Imports, sales, advertising, and use are allowed. There are some restrictions on advertising. The UK is the only country in the world that effectively regulates e-cigarettes. The maximum nicotine content allowed in e-liquids sold in the UK is 20 mg/ml, and bottles containing more than 10 ml of liquid with a higher nicotine content must be child-resistant and tamper-evident. The capacity of atomizers sold cannot exceed 2 ml.
United States - allowed. Import, sale, advertising, and use are allowed. The US FDA has strengthened its regulation of e-cigarette sales this year to control the issue of youth e-cigarette abuse and has required e-cigarette manufacturers to remove flavored e-cigarettes from physical stores.
Armenia - allowed. The sale of e-cigarettes and e-liquids with and without nicotine is unregulated. In 2018, Philip Morris International (PMI) began selling its revolutionary smokeless product, iQOS, in Armenia.
Bosnia and Herzegovina - allowed. Nicotine-containing cartridges are not classified as tobacco products, so their sale is unregulated.
Bulgaria - allowed. The sale and use of e-cigarettes and nicotine-containing cartridges are legal.
Romania - allowed. The sale and use of e-cigarettes are legal.
Sweden - allowed. Selling e-cigarettes is legal for anyone, but selling liquid nicotine to minors under 18 is illegal.
Switzerland - allowed. In 2018, a local Swiss company successfully challenged the illegality of liquid nicotine in federal court, immediately lifting the ban and selling liquid nicotine nationwide, following the same laws as neighboring Liechtenstein.
New Zealand - allowed. E-cigarettes have been legalized. Philip Morris International's IQOS tobacco product, which uses heat-not-burn technology, has officially entered the legalization path in New Zealand.
France - allowed. E-cigarettes and nicotine liquids are considered consumer products subject to general product safety regulations unless they meet medical licensing standards. The sale of e-cigarettes and cartridges with or without nicotine to minors under 18 is prohibited.
Q2: What are the current policies on the e-cigarette industry in China?
On November 1st, 2019, the State Administration for Market Regulation and the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration jointly issued a notice titled "Notice on Further Protecting Minors from the Harm of Electronic Cigarettes," which called for electronic cigarette producers, sellers, and individuals to promptly close electronic cigarette websites or client applications for online sales. It also urged e-commerce platforms to close e-cigarette stores and promptly remove e-cigarette products from their platforms, and called for e-cigarette producers, sellers, and individuals to withdraw e-cigarette advertisements published online.
Q3: Which countries or regions currently explicitly prohibit the development of the e-cigarette industry?
The following countries and regions prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes in principle (other countries have no information and are not included in the statistics): Brunei, Austria, Argentina, Mexico, Ethiopia, Greece, Brazil, Panama, Gambia, Colombia, Antigua and Barbuda, Mauritius, Oman, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Uganda, Qatar, Venezuela, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Nepal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia.
Note: The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government is currently seeking to legislate a comprehensive ban on the import, production, and sale of e-cigarettes. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have already opened up.
Q4: How to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors?
①Online: Prohibit all e-cigarette products from being promoted and sold on the internet.
②Offline: Prohibit the opening of flagship stores/experience stores/agent stores related to e-cigarettes near primary and secondary school campuses; regular offline sales stores should strictly check the age of customers (whether they are adults), including but not limited to ID cards, facial recognition, AI big data monitoring, and other technical means.
Q5: After the online channel is completely banned, what are the sales channels for e-cigarettes in China?
The main sales channels for e-cigarettes in China are offline experience stores/specialty stores/convenience stores and other physical sales outlets (not near campuses); in addition, there are foreign markets where e-cigarettes are not explicitly banned.
Q6: What is the trend forecast for e-cigarette regulation in China?
As the national level has not yet included e-cigarettes in the regulatory scope of existing tobacco products, the production and circulation of e-cigarettes are still basically in a regulatory blank area. The "Notice No. 1" has to some extent filled the regulatory gaps in the online sales and advertising of e-cigarettes, but its implementation effects remain to be observed.
The risks brought about by regulatory blank spaces are not only reflected in the health risks associated with the use of e-cigarettes but also in the product quality risks brought about by the uneven e-cigarette market.
As China is the world's largest producer and exporter of e-cigarettes, the national level should urgently legislate for e-cigarettes and quickly introduce relevant laws and regulations to comprehensively and effectively regulate e-cigarettes, or to introduce special legislation for e-cigarettes to eliminate the current regulatory vacuum.
It can be expected that the national standards for e-cigarettes will be introduced soon, and the inclusion of e-cigarettes in the strict regulatory system of tobacco products is also the general trend.
As various market participants in the e-cigarette industry, it is essential to strengthen self-discipline and comply with relevant regulations to promote the healthy development of the industry.
Q8: What technology directions in the electronic cigarette industry can apply for patents?
There are three types of patents: invention, utility model, and design. Each type of patent protects different technology directions. Invention patents protect technical ideas, solutions, composition formulas, etc. Utility model patents protect the connection relationships of the product's mechanism and components. Design patents protect the shape and pattern designs of the product. Therefore, for companies in the electronic cigarette industry, patent layout strategies can be carried out as follows:
- The principle of the atomization device and the formula of the e-liquid can be applied for invention patents;
- The connection structure of the internal components of the e-cigarette can apply for utility model patents;
- The unique shape and pattern of the e-cigarette can apply for design patents.
Q9: How should electronic cigarette company brands layout trademarks?
According to the Nice Classification, trademarks are divided into 45 categories, each covering different industries. The common categories directly related to the electronic cigarette industry are Class 3 (0305 Flavorings for tobacco), Class 34 (3407 Electronic cigarettes and their components; 3402 Smoking pipes; 3406 Flavourings for tobacco), in addition, Class 35 advertising and sales are generally necessary for all industries, Class 9 scientific instruments are substitutes in the current uncertain stage of the electronic cigarette industry policy, and other categories need to be selected according to the company's business and expansion plans.
Q10: What government funding policies can various companies in the electronic cigarette industry chain enjoy?
There are currently no special funding policies specifically for the electronic cigarette industry, and companies can consider some general qualification projects. If the company has continuous research and development, purchases production equipment, participates in exhibitions, and borrows money, there are opportunities to apply for corresponding government funding in the relevant fields.