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Electronic Cigarettes Are Ruled Illegal

Updated on Mar 11, 2009 – SCMP

I refer to the report (“Electronic cigarettes are ruled illegal”, March 5).

I would like to know what clinical trials or statistical evidence Health Department director Lam Ping-yan is drawing upon when he asserts that using electronic cigarettes is dangerous to health: “Using the unregistered product was dangerous, he warned.”

According to the manufacturers of electronic cigarettes, the nicotine-delivery medium is propylene glycol, the same chemical used in discotheque and theatrical smoke machines.

It is also used as a moisturising agent in medicines, cosmetics, food, toothpaste, mouthwash and tobacco products.

Certainly, tests should be carried out, but my gut feeling is that inhaling this vapour combined with pure nicotine has got to be better than burning leaves treated with numerous chemicals and inhaling the smoke.

Nicotine-replacement therapy is recognised as an effective method for quitting smoking but, in my experience, the conventional products – gum, patches, inhalers – are poor substitutes and prohibitively expensive.

I accept that the product must be registered under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance and appropriate safeguards implemented, given the amount of nicotine in a capsule.

At the same time, unless it can be proven to be more damaging than cigarettes, I urge the Hong Kong government to allow this product to be sold in Hong Kong at its current (cheaper than cigarettes) price. If the government is sincere in its claim that it wants to support smokers who want to quit, then this product must be considered.

Clive Keep, Lamma

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