About 10 million Chinese aged 15 or above are using electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), according to Xiao Lin, a researcher at the Tobacco Control Office at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The vaping rate among young people was higher than other age groups, with those aged 15 to 24 the highest, said Xiao at an online discussion panel on the website of China's National Health Commission (NHC).
Around 45.4 percent of e-cigarettes were bought online, Xiao added.
In response to the role of e-cigarettes in helping smokers quit, Chinese experts expressed concerns.
"Rather than helping smokers to kick the habit, e-cigarettes will only worsen their addiction," said Hu Dayi, president of the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control.
It is wrong and absurd to use e-cigarettes as a substitute, said Hu.
E-cigarettes that contain nicotine are referred to as an "electronic nicotine delivery system" (ENDS) by the World Health Organization. An ENDS is considered responsible for lung cancer, cardio-cerebrovascular diseases, and other smoking-related illnesses if inhaled for a long period of time, according to the organization.
The most effective ways to quit smoking include consultation, medication and behavioral intervention, said Xiao.
The NHC plans to regulate the e-cigarette industry through legislation in a bid to address critical concerns over the product's harmful effects.
The smoking rate for Chinese residents aged 15 and above dropped to 26.6 percent in 2018 from 27.7 percent in 2015, said a survey report released in May by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
China has set a target to reduce the smoking rate among people aged 15 and above to 20 percent by 2030, according to the "Healthy China 2030" blueprint issued in 2016.