The year was 2003. The place, Beijing, China. The man, Hok Lik, a pharmacist, 52 years of age, had lost his father to lung cancer. Hok Lik was also a smoker. This must have been the reason why the company that he had worked for, Golden Dragon Holdings, had pushed to develop the electronic cigarette. This lead to them changing the company name to "Ruyan", which is the Chinese word for 'like smoke'.

What spurs a person to develop the electronic cigarette? For Hok Lik, it must have been the fear of getting lung cancer, like his father. As a pharmacist, he must have known what kind of formulation to create to make it safe and as a smoker, what he needed to satisfy his nicotine intake.

It's been a decade since electronic cigarettes have been developed, and there are hundreds of brands being made worldwide. Research studies show that there are over 1.3 million e-smokers in the UK and over 1.2 in Germany. The numbers of people who have made the complete or partial switch to electronic cigarettes are growing daily.

The concerns of organizations such as the FDA and WHO about the safety of electronic cigarettes have not deterred many companies to continue making electronic cigarettes, in fact, a number of reputable brand manufactures has taken this as a challenge to develop better ones. Many people who use electronic cigarettes know that these are not recognized as a stop smoking aid but still continue to use it as such.

As the worldwide debate continues, New Zealand has taken action and regulated electronic cigarettes by allowing these to be only sold in pharmacies. This fact might warm the heart of Hok Lik, the pharmacist, who 10 years ago, developed this 'like smoke' device.

Photo credits: morguefile.com