China amended its tobacco monopoly law on Friday to include e-cigarettes, stepping up regulation of the fast-growing vaping industry in the world's largest tobacco market.
The cabinet order, published on the Chinese government's website and signed off by Premier Li Keqiang, comes into effect immediately.
A number of Chinese e-cigarette companies have been set up in recent years to tap into domestic sales potential, among them market leader RLX Technology Inc.
Tobacco Monopoly Law
Chinese regulators had in March this year flagged plans to bring the rules governing the sale of e-cigarettes and other new tobacco products into line with those for ordinary cigarettes.
They had previously been in a regulatory grey area.
China's tobacco industry is controlled entirely via a government monopoly, and strict controls determine which companies and retailers can produce and sell cigarettes.
The government outlawed the sale of e-cigarettes to minors in 2018 and banned online sales the following year, while Chinese state media have warned of the health and safety risks of using the products.
Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed British American Tobacco Plc (BAT) to market its Vuse Solo e-cigarettes and tobacco-flavoured pods, making it the first-ever vapour product to get clearance from the health regulator.
In 2020, a study in the US showed that vaping may be associated with a five to seven times increased risk of COVID-19 among US teenagers and young adults.