E-cigarette store to face penalty for violating rules

Writer: Zhang Yu  |  Editor: Holly Wang  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2020-06-01

An officer with Shenzhen Municipal Market Supervision and Regulation Bureau shows an anti-smoking sign. Courtesy of Shenzhen Municipal Health Commission

An e-cigarette retailer in Nanshan District, Shenzhen, was recently under investigation on suspicion of failing to post anti-smoking signs. The store will face a penalty of 2,000 yuan (US$280) if the violation is finally confirmed, which is the first such punishment in China, according to the city’s health commission.

The store was busted during an anti-smoking campaign targeting electronic cigarettes launched by the city’s tobacco control office Saturday, a day before World No Tobacco Day, which falls on May 31 every year.

The store, located on the 2nd floor of shopping mall Tiley Fame City in Nanshan, was found to have posted a sign at its door welcoming passers-by to come in and have a try of their e-cigarettes. Within the store, salesmen also encouraged potential buyers to try out products.

When asked whether it is permitted to smoke indoors, one salesman said yes. At the store, a team of reporters who accompanied law enforcers also saw that some staff in the store were vaping.

Most notably, no conspicuous warning signs including “No Smoking,” “Smoking is Harmful” and “No Tobacco Sales to Minors” were posted in the store, which was apparently flouting the city’s tobacco control regulations.

According to Xu Yu, a market regulation officer in Nanshan, the e-cigarette retailer was suspected of violating article 13 of the regulations on tobacco control.

If the illegal act was verified, the market supervisory authority shall order the violator to make corrections within a certain time limit and impose a fine of 2,000 yuan. A penalty of 10,000 yuan shall be imposed if the violator fails to make corrections within the time limit, Xu said.

Additionally, two smokers who had been spotted smoking in the store were each fined 50 yuan. The store’s operator was warned and ordered to make corrections for failing to dissuade people from smoking in nonsmoking places.

“E-cigarette retailers should post standardized warning signs in accordance with regulations. It should be stated that it is forbidden to sell cigarettes, including e-cigarettes, to minors,” said Xiong Jingfan, a technical officer of the smoke-free city project in Shenzhen.

Xiong added that selling e-cigarettes on online platforms such as WeChat is also an illegal act, and that the market supervisory authority can give warning to violators.

Shenzhen’s revised regulations on tobacco control officially incorporated e-cigarettes in the scope of the smoking ban Oct. 1, 2019. In December last year, the city also released a new version of an anti-smoking sign that says no to e-cigarettes.