Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette)
1. What is e-cigarette?
E-cigarette is an electronic device which resembles a cigarette or cigar. A typical e-cigarette has a cartridge for storing a liquid which contains nicotine in various concentrations and is usually powered by a rechargeable battery. Users puff on it and it produces a fine, heated mist which contains nicotine and which is absorbed into the lungs.
2. What can be the health effects of e-cigarette?
As the e-cigarette cartridges may contain various concentrations of nicotine, use of e-cigarette may cause nicotine dependence and constriction of the blood vessels.
3. Can electronic cigarette be used to help smokers to treat their tobacco dependence?
WHO has announced on 19 September 2008 that they did not consider e-cigarette to be a legitimate therapy for smoker trying to quit. There is no scientific evidence so far to confirm the product’s safety and efficacy. No rigorous, peer-reviewed studies have been conducted showing that e-cigarette is a safe and effective NRT. Some marketers of the e-cigarette describe it as a means to help smokers break their addictions to tobacco. Some even inaccurately cite World Health Organization’s (WHO) support of this category of product by claiming that WHO’s approval of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) principles equates to endorsement of the e-cigarette as a safe and effective cessation aid. Indeed, electronic cigarette is not a proven nicotine replacement therapy.
4. What is nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)?
NRT is an effective and safe aid for smoking cessation. Studies show that NRT help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and hence increase the success rate effectively. Commonly used NRT include nicotine gum, nicotine skin patch, nicotine inhaler and nicotine lozenge. They can be sold by most retailers of medicines, except the inhaler which is classified as a Part I poison under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance and therefore can only be sold by dispensaries (i.e. pharmacies) under the supervision of a registered pharmacist.
5. Is the sale and procession of e-cigarette regulated in Hong Kong?
E-cigarettes containing nicotine and marketed as nicotine replacement therapy are pharmaceutical products under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance and must be registered before sale. The possession or sale of unregistered pharmaceutical product, and the possession without authority of the inhaler which is a Part I poison, are both liable on conviction to a $100,000 fine and 2 years’ imprisonment.
6. Will Department of Health accept e-cigarette as a smoking cessation product?
Any nicotine-containing smoking cessation product must be registered before sale in Hong Kong. The criteria for registration approval are: the efficacy, safety and quality of the product concerned. Therefore, the registration applicant must provide clinical trial reports and laboratory reports to prove the efficacy, safety and quality of the product to the satisfaction of registration authority.
If you need any assistance or information on smoking cessation, please contact us at 1833183.