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What are the sales practices of internet cigar vendors in China?
  1. Junling Gao1,
  2. Carla J Berg2,
  3. Lulu Huang1,
  4. Pinpin Zheng1,
  5. Hua Fu1
  1. 1School of Public Health, Fudan University, Shanghai, PR China
  2. 2Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, Atlanta, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Hua Fu, School of Public Health, Fudan University, Po Box 248, 138 Yixueyuan Road, Shanghai 200032, PR China; hfu{at}


Objective To estimate the number of websites selling cigars in China and to examine their sales and marketing practices.

Methods Comprehensive searches were conducted using three keyword terms and two popular internet search engines. A total of 6000 sites were examined. Two raters examined the content of each site using a standardised coding instrument to assess geographic location, presence of warnings, products sold, and promotional strategies.

Results We identified 106 internet cigar vendors, which were located in 16 cities, with most of them being located in developed cities (eg, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong). Only 6.6% of internet cigar vendors featured health warnings, and 14.2% featured minimum age of sale warnings. More than 80% of sites sold large cigars, 34.9% sold small or mini cigars, 42.5% sold cigarettes, 28.3% sold tobacco leaves, and 73.6% sold cigar accessories. Third-party online payment was the most frequently accepted payment method. Scanned images of cigars or cigar boxes (92.5%), reduced prices (84.0%), and diffusion of cigar-related information (67.9%) were the most frequently used promotional strategies.+

Conclusions Internet cigar vendors undermine tobacco control policies and pose many challenges for tobacco control advocates in China. New legislation and enforcement should address these issues.

  • Advertising and Promotion
  • Low/Middle income country
  • Tobacco industry

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