Alibaba to Stop Sales of E-Cigarettes to U.S. Buyers

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is suspending sales of e-cigarettes and accessories to buyers in the U.S., citing concerns about underage vaping and a mysterious lung illness that has been linked to at least 23 deaths.

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A sprawling black market for vaping products has complicated efforts of U.S. health officials to combat the two health crises. Many of the lung illness cases have involved cartridges that were purchased from informal sources, such as friends or illicit dealers, and that contained THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana.

Juul Labs Inc., the e-cigarette market leader, has sued to stop online sellers from hawking counterfeits and said it has tracked many knockoffs to China. It also has taken legal actions against makers of unauthorized Juul-compatible pods that have flooded the U.S. market with child-friendly flavors such as rainbow drops and grape soda.

The Wall Street Journal on Sunday reported there were hundreds of listings on Alibaba for Juul-compatible pods, some of which included videos showing potential buyers how to fill them or insert them into vaping devices that look like Juul’s. The pods were sold in bulk, by the thousands.

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“There have been many concerns raised in the United States regarding under-age e-cigarettes usage, and the potential public health issues related to vaping products,” Alibaba said in an announcement published on its website.

Alibaba’s new sales restrictions, set to take effect Thursday, include vape pens, herbal vaporizers and empty pods, the company said. The items will remain available to buyers outside the U.S. Alibaba said its policies “have long prohibited” the sale of traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes containing nicotine.

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