According to the Tobacco Monopoly Law, only adults are allowed to buy cigarettes and only authorized retailers are allowed to sell them. Yet parents in different cities across the country have complained to the media about how easy it is for children to purchase cigarettes online. Sznews.com commented on Monday:
It is illegal to sell cigarettes through e-commerce channels, and selling tobacco to juveniles also breaks the law. Yet it seems that has not hindered vendors on e-commerce platforms from selling cigarettes to underage smokers.
Several days after media reports about the problem, tobacco sellers are still active on the internet, and it seems neither the e-commerce platform companies－some are big names in the industry－nor the industrial and commercial administrative departments have acted to put a stop to their illegal activities.
It is time for the law enforcers to take immediate action to hold accountable not only the vendors and their suppliers, but also the e-commerce companies for ignoring the illegal business practices under their eyes.
The e-commerce companies have the primary responsibility to ensure no illegal activities are carried out on their platforms. If the e-commerce giants cannot fulfill this responsibility, they will not be able to avoid the suspicions that they are shielding or conniving in the illegal practices for profit.
China has the world's largest population of smokers and second-hand smokers. Researchers on tobacco control have pointed out the economic loss incurred by the loss of labor and cost of medical care due to tobacco use far outweighs the added value generated by the State-owned tobacco industry.
Preventing young people from becoming new smokers is a daunting task. But putting an end to the online selling of tobacco products to juveniles will be a big step forward.