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Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Hon Lik - we deserve more in 2014 and I hope it will be a good year

I was sure that this article would uplift me on this first day of 2014. but instead, I feel disappointed. I am one that accepts that Hon Lik is the inventor of electronic cigarettes because they were manufactured and worked. The American designer Herbert A. Gilbert who seems to have been the first, still has not made one that works - if he ever did? Correct me if I'm wrong. So Hon Lik has been interesting for me. What a brilliant invention!

The heading of the article “I was sure that the electronic cigarette would be welcomed with open arms” immediately reflected my own feelings. I  can't believe that such an amazing solution to  tobacco smoking, has had such a vicious reception, that users have to FIGHT for the right to vape. It is extraordinary insanity by our rulers that they are unable to see the benefit.

The article is translated from French. I reproduce the text here.

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Hon Lik is the Chinese pharmacist who invented the electronic cigarette. For Sciences et Avenir, he reacts to the success of his water vapor “smoke” machine.

E-HOOKAH. The Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik is the inventor of the electronic cigarette. Nicolas Sridi, Sciences et Avenir correspondent in China, met with him in Beijing.

Still in the e-cigarette business (but not yet a millionaire), Hon Lik has partnered with a Hong Kong group, Dragonite International, for development. He works today on new concepts such as the e-hookah for the Middle Eastern and North African markets. In his interview with Sciences et Avenir, the Chinese inventor recalled the origin of his invention and shared his take on the current controversy surrounding the product.
FRENCH VERSION. The translation of the article can be find here.

Sciences et Avenir : What pushed you to begin research on the electronic cigarette and what were the main challenges?

Hon Lik : My basic specialty is finding how to introduce our traditional pharmacopeia's active substances into the human body. I used to be a big smoker myself and knowing the harmful effects associated with it very well, I told myself I couldn’t go on like that.

I tried nicotine patches but I didn’t care for the idea of slow diffusion of the drug into the organism. I missed the effect of the sudden impact, the act of smoking, the sensation of smoking. So I started thinking of a way to create vapor containing nicotine, similar to cigarette smoke but not as harmful for the organism.

In 2001 I devised a system on a large console, using food additives as solvents. At the time I was working on vaporization by ultrasound but the droplets formed were too big to resemble tobacco smoke. This technology is used for example in some household humidifiers; it consists of making a metallic diaphragm vibrate at an ultrasonic frequency in a liquid to create micro-droplets which then, upon contact with room-temperature air, form a sort of cold vapor.

“I was sure that the electronic cigarette would be welcomed with open arms and that in three years we would be able to put together the right manufacturing and distribution networks, I was naïve…" 

I finally decided to use resistance heating which got better results. The challenge was managing to scale the mechanism down to a miniature size right for a cigarette and getting the right dose of nicotine, while also getting the right odors from harmless additives. This is how I came to file the first patent in 2003 in China.


Hon Lik, inventor of the electronic cigarette. Photo by Nicolas Sridi for Sciences et Avenir.
10 years later, your invention has been very successful in the West, especially in France and the USA. Why do you think it took so long?

I find it astonishing and it wasn’t at all what I expected. I was sure that the electronic cigarette would be welcomed with open arms and that in three years we would be able to put together the right manufacturing and distribution networks, I was naïve…

The tobacco industry saw me as a competitor to block, the health authorities were very suspicious and pharmaceutical groups were not interested. Everything is very different today.

“I hope that authorities like the FDA in the United States will continue to impose stricter and stricter standards so that the product will be as safe as possible” – Hon Lik

However, recent studies show that the resulting smoke contains harmful products such as heavy metals, formaldehyde, etc. How do you respond to that?

Today, the majority of manufacturers are not health professionals or large international groups able to comply with strict quality standards. They are small structures which previously manufactured all sorts of gadgets and find themselves today in a booming niche. That’s why test results aren’t good; in principle, everything can be controlled in my invention – the components, the additives used, the vaporization temperature, etc.

I really hope that the large international pharmaceutical groups get into manufacturing electronic cigarettes and that authorities like the FDA in the United States will continue to impose stricter and stricter standards so that the product will be as safe as possible.
Interview by Nicolas Sridi for Sciences et Avenir.

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 I was deeply disappointed with the words - "I really hope that the large international pharmaceutical groups get into manufacturing electronic cigarettes and that authorities like the FDA in the United States will continue to impose stricter and stricter standards so that the product will be as safe as possible."

! !

Mr Lik's invention is now in generations 2,3 and 4, unrecognisable from the first electronic cigarettes that hardly emitted any vapour at all. THOSE were electronic "cigarettes". Is he unaware of the vaping politics of the West?  Does he realise that the very device he is using in the photograph would be likely to be banned as things now stand?  See Dragonite

He really IS naïve - or is he?!  "The tobacco industry saw me as a competitor to block, the health authorities were very suspicious and pharmaceutical groups were not interested. Everything is very different today.(my underlining)


It IS? I'm sure Pharmaceuticals are interested! Dragonite appears to be very pharmaceutical.

No Mr Lik, in all respects, the enemies are alive and stronger than ever! And pharmaceuticals are not our friend. The very fact that the reporter asked you loaded questions and quoted "recent studies" from what is, in the vaping world, "the long distant past",  is disappointing. It enabled him to get you to give the very best answer for pharmaceutical control!

What a shame.

I hope the forces of good will surround us all in 2014