Chinese tobacco regulators are calling for comprehensive awareness and control on electronic cigarettes – an alternative to cigarettes which currently operates in a regulatory gray area under the country’s nationwide ban for public smoking, according to

"We are currently calling for relevant departments to look into regulation for standardized control on e-cigarettes and prohibit its public use like tobacco," says Zhang Jianshu, president of the Beijing Tobacco Control Association.

Currently there’re no regulations on e-cigarettes in China when it comes to tobacco control, healthcare or production management, nor the use of e-cigarettes in public places, for the device is not formally regulated as a tobacco product, thepaper reports.

The call to ban e-cigarettes in public comes after several high-profile incidents have raised a red flag on the issue. 

Last month, two Air China pilots’ licenses were revoked after a vaping incident in the cockpit sent the plane to an emergency descent of more than 6,500 meter (21,000 feet) due to the sudden loss of cabin pressure.

In the same week, a passenger smoking an e-cigarette in a Beijing subway carriage stirred debate on social media about whether or not e-cigarettes should be considered smoking.

Invented by a Chinese pharmacist in 2003, e-cigarettes are commonly believed to be safer than tobacco cigarettes and may help smokers quit. However, some experts are warning that e-cigarettes are not harmless, and have called into question their usefulness in helping people to stop smoking, reports gbtimes. 

E-cigarettes usually contain nicotine, which makes second-hand smoke from e-cigarettes harmful, according to Zhang.

As of now, a few Chinese cities have taken steps to regulate e-cigarettes as a tobacco product. For example, authorities in Hangzhou City in east China's Zhejiang Province have included inhaling or exhaling vapor as smoking.

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