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What are the sales practices of internet cigar vendors in China?


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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