Friday 11 February 2022

China's war on vaping

The Chinese government has arrested Chu Lam Yiu, the owner of Huabao, China's biggest e-cigarette company.
She is being held in “residential surveillance”, a form of off-grid detention used by the Chinese Communist party and criticised by human rights groups for lacking due process. Her son, Lam Ka Yu, who was educated in the US and the UK and is in his late 20s, was also detained. 
.. For Chu, the future is far from clear. The CCDI, the highly secretive extralegal body that can investigate and detain party members, might afford some leniency in exchange for co-operation. But acquittals are a rarity in a judicial system with a near-100 per cent conviction rate. 
The Cercius Group, which has studied Chu’s political connections and that of her husband, businessman Lam Kwok Man, said it did not “expect any good outcome”.

Eighteen months ago I asked why the Chinese government, which owns the world's biggest tobacco company, was clamping down on vaping. It was a rhetorical question. Vaping is an existential threat to tobacco. I said...

It is obvious what China Tobacco's motivation is. They fear missing out on cigarette sales if people switch to vaping. The Chinese government, insofar as it can be distinguished from the tobacco monopoly, doesn't want to miss out on tax revenue. More vapers means fewer smokers, hence the online sales ban and scare stories.

Does this sound familiar? The United States has been awash with scare stories about e-cigarettes for several years, culminating in the 'EVALI' panic last year. A ban on online sales (disingenuously titled the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act) passed the Senate earlier this month and will be voted on in the House any day now.

The only difference is that China Tobacco doesn't have the 'public health' lobby cheering it on.
But it seems that I was wrong. China Tobacco does have the 'public health' lobby cheering it on.  

For months, the e-cigarette market has been squeezed by dual pressures. Health groups are concerned about youth uptake, supporting government clampdowns on online advertisements and sales to minors.
The smoking rate in China is 45 per cent. You'd think 'health groups' had bigger fish to fry.
Chinese health groups also happen to be awash with money from the anti-vaping fanatic Mike Bloomberg. The China National Tobacco Corporation and Bloomberg Philanthropies have teamed up to keep people smoking. See how it works yet? 

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