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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Have a smoke-free electronic cigarette!


P.T. Jyothi Datta

Mumbai, Sept. 30 Smokers can now light up in public places and yet, not attract Union Health Minister, Dr Anbumani Ramadoss’ ire, thanks to electronic-cigarettes finding their way into local markets.

Pitched as cigarette-alternatives or smoking-substitutes, the product looks and is held like a cigarette, but has no tobacco or smoke.

Instead, it consists of a high-tech silicon chip, an atomising chamber and lithium batteries, among other micro-electronic components. And diluted nicotine gets vapourised to give the smoker his smoke (read vapour) rings!

Anti-tobacco advocacy workers, though, are not amused with the product, as it comes when the Centre looks to completely snuff out smoking from public places from October 2.

The product falls in the regulatory gap between a tobacco product and a tobacco-cessation product, say health-workers from India, the UK and the US, where similar products are being sold over the last several months.

Chennai-based SPK Consumer Solutions Pvt Ltd, in collaboration with an undisclosed overseas company, is selling the product in Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, said Mr Sunil Kumar, who told Business Line he was a director with SPK. He was, however, guarded on other details regarding the product, company and the overseas alliance.

Cost of alternative

The product is being marketed as an alternative to smoking and a quit-smoking device, he confirmed. The quitters’ pack is Rs 3,600, where the smoker can gradually decrease the quantity of nicotine he inhales, till he quits. As a smoking alternative, the device is priced at Rs 1,000, Mr Kumar said.

The World Health Organisation, however, warns electronic cigarettes not to claim to be safe and effective anti-smoking therapies, as there is inadequate scientific evidence.

Among the e-cigarettes sold overseas is Ruyan E-cigarette from Ruyan America Inc, a US-based joint venture partner of Ruyan Holdings Ltd of Hong Kong. There are 35 manufacturers of e-cigarettes, say health workers, and 60 per cent are from China.


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