A new Chinese law that some companies see as trade protectionism is at least allowing people to live a bit healthier. In accordance with China's Administrative Measures for Tobacco Monopoly Licenses, foreign retailers — including Carrefour and Metro — have been ordered to stop selling tobacco products in their Chinese outlets from the beginning of 2009.
In March 2008, China issued Administrative Measures for Tobacco Monopoly Licenses, which said it would prohibit foreign ventures from entering the Chinese tobacco market. However the licenses of many foreign supermarkets were valid until the end of 2008 and they continued selling tobacco products until the expiration of their licenses.
The new Administrative Measures for Tobacco Monopoly Licenses states that any foreign-invested company or individual should not engage in tobacco business in China either by franchising or by any other form of investment.
Some cities such as Harbin ordered foreign supermarkets to withdraw their tobacco counters before January 1, 2009 while other regions such as Fujian province allowed a three-month transition period for foreign retailers, and the retailers were asked to close tobacco counters from April 1, 2009.