Online shops illegally selling tobacco monopoly commodities in China difficult to curb: market watchdog
Published: Sep 02, 2021 06:33 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Online shops illegally selling tobacco monopoly commodities such as tobacco shreds and cigarette paper in China were found to be difficult to supervise as shown by a recent media investigation. 

Many Chinese smokers prefer DIY cigarettes which cost much less than branded cigarettes and they can make their cigarettes with high-quality tobacco as well as with their favorite flavors. 

An investigation by The Paper on Tuesday showed such tobacco products are sold at a slew of online shops on e-commerce platforms such as Taobao and Pinduoduo. However, such businesses are suspected of violating related Chinese laws and regulations on tobacco monopoly commodities. 

When a Global Times reporter searched "tobacco" or "tobacco"-related words on Taobao on Thursday afternoon, there were very few results. However, there still existed a slew of shops selling tobacco products on Pinduoduo as of Thursday afternoon. 

When asked whether the qualifications of online shops selling tobacco on Taobao have been verified and whether they have obtained related business licenses, the consumer service of Taobao replied that tobacco products are prohibited to be sold on the Taobao and Tmall platforms. 

According to the consumer service, the platform has corresponding assessments on merchants and the company's supervision department also supervises such businesses. Those shops that severely violate regulations will be punished or the online shops will be locked down. 

The consumer service of Pinduoduo replied that the platform has completed verification and supervision mechanisms of its merchants and their products. Consumers can reflect unsatisfactory products or services to the platform. 

A staffer from the market watchdog on tobacco monopoly commodities in Shanghai told The Paper that the authority would communicate with Pinduoduo and require the platform to strengthen supervision on tobacco sales. However, the authority also admitted the difficulty in curbing such shops since they can reopen new accounts if they are shut down. 

According to the Law of the PRC on Tobacco Monopoly and other related laws and regulations, licenses are required to produce or sell tobacco monopoly commodities in China. 

According to China's Law on Tobacco Monopoly, tobacco monopoly commodities refer to cigarettes, cigars, cut tobacco, redried leaf tobacco, leaf tobacco, cigarette paper, filter rods, cigarette tow and cigarette manufacturing equipment. 

In addition, any citizen, legal person or other organizations shall not sell tobacco monopoly commodities through information networks and those who sell tobacco products outside the approved business addresses shall be deemed as operating without a license, according to related laws and regulations. 

Global Times