Chinese health authorities have banned producers of smoking cessation products from advertising nicotine-containing products as "harmless".
Ministry of Health spokesman Mao Qun'an said scientific studies had proved nicotine was harmful and smoking cessation products advertisements should not disregard scientific results and violate state regulations.
Health authorities were drawing up regulations to better administer these products and the ministry was working on new measures for effectively monitoring these products, Mao said.
The move comes amid the controversy prompted by the manufacturer of smoking cessation product Ruyan, which comprises a cigarette pipe and "smoking balls". The company claimed its nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), which incorporates more nicotine in its product than an average cigarette, was harmless.
The manufacturer of Ruyan, Beijing SBT Technology and Development Co. Ltd., said its products had been recommended by World Health Organization (WHO), but this was denied by a WHO official.
Ruyan came under fire after the Beijing Times reported that each ball contained 18 milligrams of nicotine, far higher than the average 1.2 milligrams in a cigarette.
Yang Gonghuan, deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said, "Substitutes for cigarettes and other tobacco products are only allowed to have a very low and restricted nicotine content."
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has already taken samples of Ruyan from the market for safety tests and the results would be released by the end of 2006.
But Thursday's China Youth Daily said neither the center nor the ministry had revealed the results.
(Xinhua News Agency January 11, 2007)