Last updated: May 23rd 2022

Summary

China became a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on January 9, 2006.

Smoke Free Places

Smoking is completely prohibited in at least 28 indoor public places, including medical facilities, restaurants, bars, and most public transportation. Designated smoking areas are permitted in other specified places, such as long-distance transport. Sub-national jurisdictions have the authority to implement local smoke free policies.

Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship

Tobacco advertising is prohibited in mass media, public places, means of public transport, and outdoors. Other forms of tobacco advertising are permitted, including through sponsored events and organizations, promotional discounts, and retailer incentive programs.

Tobacco Packaging and Labeling

Required warnings are text-only, use small type, and must cover no less than 35 percent of the front and back surfaces of cigarette packaging. Misleading terms such as "light" and "low tar" are prohibited on tobacco packaging, but other misleading packaging (e.g., colors, numbers, and symbols) is not prohibited.

Cigarette Contents and Disclosures

The law does not grant the authority to regulate the contents of cigarettes. The law does not require that manufacturers and importers disclose to government authorities information on the contents and emissions of their products.

Sales Restrictions

The law prohibits the sale of tobacco products via vending machines and near primary and secondary schools. Internet sales are restricted. There are no restrictions on the sale of single cigarettes or small packets of cigarettes. The sale of tobacco products is prohibited to persons under the age of 18.

E-Cigarettes

The sale of e-cigarettes is allowed and subject to several restrictions including a minimum sales age; a ban on sales near certain education facilities; and a ban on sales through vending machines and the internet. The law also bans the domestic sale of flavored e-cigarettes, other than tobacco flavor. The ban on flavored e-cigarettes does not apply to e-cigarettes manufactured for export. 

The use of e-cigarettes is prohibited in schools, kindergartens, and other public venues where minors gather. Text-only health warnings are required to be displayed on 35 percent of the front and back of e-cigarette packaging. The warnings should be rotated annually. These rules will not apply to e-cigarettes manufactured for export. The relevant tobacco advertising laws are applied to e-cigarettes, which prohibit tobacco advertising in mass media, public places, means of public transport, and outdoors. Exhibitions, forums and expos promoting e-cigarettes are also specifically prohibited.

The National Standard for E-cigarettes comes into effect on October 1, 2022, which places a nicotine concentration limit of 20 mg/ml for e-cigarettes and prohibits the sale of non-nicotine e-cigarettes and synthetic nicotine e-cigarettes. In addition, the National Standard prohibits substances that are 1) carcinogenic, mutagenic, reproductively toxic, or toxic to the respiratory system; 2) additives and stimulants related to energy and vitality; 3) substances that may give consumers a misconception of health benefits or harm reduction; and 4) substances that are used for dyeing purposes only. Further, additives used must not increase the health risks under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions of use, be technically essential, be minimized after the expected result is achieved, should not be used to flavor the product to be attractive to minors, or be used to cover up the product’s spoilage or other quality defects. These rules will not apply to e-cigarettes manufactured for export. 

Roadmap to Tobacco Control Legislation

In China, the National People’s Congress, the highest state body, has not passed a comprehensive tobacco control law. Instead, there are several relevant laws and regulations that address tobacco use in China. In 1991, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passed the Law of People’s Republic of China on Tobacco Monopoly (Tobacco Monopoly Law) for the purposes of managing the manufacture and business of tobacco products, increasing the quality of tobacco products, protecting consumers’ interests, and ensuring state revenue. The law is concerned primarily with exercising monopoly control over tobacco commodities and operating a monopoly license system, although it also includes provisions regarding tobacco packaging. Further, the Tobacco Monopoly Law bans certain types of advertising of tobacco products (radio, TV and newspaper or periodicals). The State Council, the chief administrative authority, issued Regulations for the Implementation of the Tobacco Monopoly Law in 1997 (and subsequently amended), elaborating upon matters addressed in the law.

The Advertising Law of the People’s Republic of China (Advertising Law) was promulgated in 1994 and amended in 2015 to prohibit advertising in mass media, public places, means of public transport, and outdoors. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology's Rules on Tobacco Monopoly Licensing include provisions banning the sale of tobacco products by internet and vending machine.

Several laws and regulations set forth China’s smoke free policies. These laws and regulations were issued by a variety of agencies and place restrictions on smoking in a broad range of public places. Such promulgations include: (1) Ministry of Health Rules on the Implementation of Public Places Sanitation Administration Regulations; (2) Law on the Protection of Minors (prohibiting smoking in schools, kindergartens, and other public places where minors gather); (3) Rules on the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Transport and Waiting Rooms (issued jointly by six agencies); (4) Civil Aviation Administration Rules on the Prohibition of Smoking in Civil Airports and Civil Aircraft; and (5) State Council Regulations on the Administration of Business Premises for Internet Access Services (banning smoking in internet cafes and public computer lounges).

General packaging and labeling requirements are set forth in the Tobacco Monopoly Law (1991) and its accompanying implementing regulations (1997, amended in 2016). More specific requirements are contained in the Rules on Cigarette Package Labeling in the Jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China, which went into effect October 1, 2016. These new rules replace the Rules on Cigarette Package Labeling in the Territories of the People’s Republic of China, issued in 2007.

Administrative Measures for E-cigarette Management, issued by the State Council’s tobacco monopoly authority, regulate the e-cigarette market nationally. The State Council's tobacco monopoly authority has issued Regulations on E-cigarette Warning Signs and National Standards for E-cigarettes, effective May 2022 and October 2022, respectively.  The National Standards for E-cigarettes will not apply to e-cigarettes manufactured for export.

Review Status

This country’s legal measures were reviewed by our legal staff in consultation with in-country lawyers or tobacco control experts.