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Does Hon Lik, inventor of the modern e-cig, support the FDA deeming regs?

Posted by Matt Rowland on

China’s Hon Lik is a somewhat controversial figure in the global vaping community, but a recent interview in Motherboard Magazine this summer is creating a new wave of scandal.   While vapers tend to debate his claims as the “inventor” of the modern-day e-cig, his public support of the FDA deeming regulations is leaving his remaining fans, at least in the United States, completely dumbfounded.

Until a short time ago, Hon Lik chose to stay relatively under the radar here in America.  It was only when he sold his patents to Imperial Tobacco in early 2014 for an astonishing $75 million that his actions began to raise a few eyebrows.  Was Mr. Lik essentially siding with Big Tobacco in the War on Vaping?

When a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco, Fontem Ventures, immediately began suing several e-cig companies over claims of patent violation. Hon Lik’s reputation took a bit of a hit once again.  However, even in light of this new surge in lawsuits, many vapers were still willing to give the Chinese inventor the benefit of the doubt.  After all, business is business, and Hon Lik is not getting any younger.  At the time of the patent sale, Lik had just turned 62.

Hon Lik and the ‘patent issue'

The average consumer might be surprised to learn that Hon Lik is no stranger to court challenges over his patents.  In fact, Lik has filed many similar lawsuits himself in the past.  In his mind, Lik had witnessed dozens of e-cig companies in both the United States and China releasing new products that he believed were based off of his patent.  And he had never received a dime of the profits.


So, he filed a few lawsuits, won a few cases, and quickly grew tired of policing the blitzkrieg of vaping technology being released to market at a faster and faster rate.  By selling his patents to Imperial Tobacco, the man could sit back and enjoy his golden years without all of the stress.  And $75 million is definitely enough money to enjoy a long and happy retirement.

Hon Lik: Friend or foe?

Then came the Motherboard interview.  When journalist Kahleigh Rogers asked the proverbial Father of Modern-Day Vaping about his thoughts on the new e-cig regulations facing the United States, Hon lik was quick to express his thoughts.

“You probably mean the deeming regulations. This is a positive. This will increase the confidence in this category of products, as well as the manufacturing standards will be improved. However, I also feel that this might put more restrictions on the innovation side which will have a negative impact.
Having said so, I also strongly believe … regulatory environments might improve as well because regulations are more or less behind the movement of consumer market.”

This sort of in-your-face response sends a bit of a mixed message.  One the one hand, Lik seems to acknowledge that the FDA deeming regulations will stifle innovation, but he also seems to believe that regulations, in general, will further advance the popularity of electronic cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool.  Rogers pressed on by asking about the possibility of the FDA deeming regulations eliminating the American vaping industry entirely.

“There are many brands (of e-cigs) available on the market at the moment, but fancy packaging is not really the solution. What’s more important is the content, standard, and safety of product.
In terms of choices, as a pharmacist, ex-smoker, and developer, I am very keen to recommend closed systems [like cig-a-likes]. It’s not only because of my intellectual property, but more importantly it’s a product people consume through their mouths and inhale into their lungs, so the safety is very important.”

So there you have it.  Apparently, Hon Lik is not a big fan of vape mods and RDA’s with “fancy packaging” and innovative features.  The man is old school, preferring his Blu cig-a-likes to a tricked out Sigelei Fuchai 213.  But then again, Hon Lik just so happens to be a paid consultant for the Blu e-cig brand, too.    



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