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Ruyan, the Chinese electronic cigaret

It seems the tobacco lobby is quite powerful. Just a couple of months ago a homegrown Chinese innovation, the electronic fake cigaret Ruyan, still received an innovation award. But now the Chinese State Food and Drugs Administration says that after testing they found that the product is dangerous. Of course the Chinese government receives about 20 billion USD in taxes from smoking, so that might give an incentive to make the results look worse than they really are. And the Western media likes this kind of negative stories, and the news is spreading quickly through the foreign press.

The Ruyan is meant to help people to quit smoking. It is an electronic cigaret that does not produce smoke, and that you do not have to light. You can therefore “smoke” it everywhere, I even noted someone using it on a plane to Europe a few weeks ago. The product is becoming popular quite fast in China, where it is sold in drugstores for about RMB 800 (EUR 80). A steep price for this country, where most people do not even realize that smoking can be dangerous.

What happened is that the FDA released a statement saying that one cigaret contains the same amount of nicotine as a whole pack of cigarets. Now that may be true or not (I assume it is correct), but what they do not mention is that the Ruyan comes with capsules in different strenghts. You can get a very lowe dosage, or a very high one. The highest may indeed be equivalent to a whole pack, for someone who is used to smoking a pack a day. You also don’t need to smoke a whole cigaret at once, because you don’t light it, and therefore the comparison is already flawed.

But think about it, what is the most dangerous thing about smoking? The nicotine? Of course not, it is the smoke and the tar that ends up in your lungs. And that is of course missing in the study and in the negative articles in the press. If this product gets banned in European countries (or even China) it will be worse for public health, and the tobacco industry will have another win.

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