Electronic Cigarette History
Electronic cigarettes are a relatively recent invention. They were originally developed in 2003 by Chinese inventor and smoker Hon Lik, after his father, another heavy smoker, had died from lung cancer.
The following year they were patented and marketed across China under the brand name Ruyan, which means “like smoke”.
It took another two years for electronic cigarettes to make the leap into Europe. British businessman Greg Carson brought them to the UK under the no-nonsense brand name Electro Fag, where they quickly gained such popularity that their use was debated by MPs in parliament. The MPs ruled that electronic cigarettes were exempt from smoking legislation and so could be used in restaurants and buildings where tobacco smoking was otherwise prohibited.
The following year cigarettes crossed the Atlantic and they have exploded in popularity since, although their use remains controversial in some countries. In the US the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has cracked down on the use of sweet flavourings such as fruit or mint.
A number of individual US states have taken action against the sale of electronic cigarettes, including New Jersey, Oregon and California, although the latter attempt at a ban was vetoed in September 2009 by then governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Explaining his move, the legendary film star turned politician said: “If adults want to purchase and consume these products with an understanding of the associated health risks, they should be able to do so unless and until federal law changes the legal status of these tobacco products.”
In September 2008 the World Health Organisation (WHO) demanded that manufacturers remove any claims suggesting that they endorse electronic cigarettes or considers them safe. Four months later electronic cigarettes were completely banned in Australia, in spite of the fact that a detailed analysis in neighbouring New Zealand had proclaimed them a “safe alternative to smoking”.
In the UK, anti-smoking organisation ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) has cautiously recognised electronic cigarettes as “likely to be a safer alternative to smoking” but has still urged those wishing to quit to use conventional nicotine replacement therapies.
In May 2009, trade boy the Electronic Cigarette Association ECITA was formed, to represent manufacturers, retailers, and distributors, principally in dealings with governments and health authorities.
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