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Amid US vaping crackdown, Juul enters China with online store openings

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U.S. e-cigarettes maker Juul Labs Inc, which faces a widening crackdown on vaping at home, has entered China, with online storefronts on e-commerce sites owned by Alibaba Group and JD.com to tap the worlds largest market of smokers.

FILE PHOTO: Juul brand vaping pens are seen for sale in a shop in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., February 6, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

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SHANGHAI: U.S. e-cigarettes maker Juul Labs Inc, which faces a widening crackdown on vaping at home, has entered China, with online storefronts on e-commerce sites owned by Alibaba Group and JD.com to tap the worlds largest market of smokers.

Juul, in which tobacco giant Altria Group owns a 35per cent stake, has been launching its products in international markets such as South Korea, Indonesia and Philippines. It recently raised over US$750 million in an expanded funding round.

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The U.S. government announced plans on Wednesday to remove all flavored e-cigarettes from store shelves, as officials warned that sweet flavors had drawn millions of children into nicotine addiction.

The move comes as U.S. health officials are investigating a handful of deaths and potentially hundreds of lung illnesses tied to vaping.

A notice published on Juul's official virtual store on Tmall, an Alibaba e-commerce site, said it had opened on Sept. 9. Juul also had a similar store on JD.com, another major Chinese online retailer.

On Tmall, a Juul device with two flavor pods sells for 299 yuan (about US$40). Flavors include mint, mango and strawberry.

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Juul, Tmall and JD.com did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

China, which is the world's largest single market for tobacco consumption with over 300 million smokers, represents a market with both opportunity and risk for the company.

It is already home to dozens of Chinese competitors with n

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