A person poses with an electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette, Wednesday June 12, 2013. (AP Photo / Tim Ireland, PA)
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Despite persistently high smoking rates in Lebanon, e-cigarettes – a relatively new nicotine alternative to conventional cigarettes – are banned, even as evidence suggests they can assist those wishing to kick the habit.Despite the ministry's ban, anecdotal evidence shows e-cigarette use is on the rise across the country; the ruling has simply pushed the few suppliers underground.Smoking is widespread in Lebanon and there's little government help for those wishing to quit.Figures from the World Health Organization indicate that 43 percent of adult males and 34 percent of adult females in Lebanon currently smoke tobacco products. Lebanon's Health Ministry has run campaigns and tried to implement laws to cut smoking – there are an estimated 3,500-6,000 smoking-related deaths annually – but the distribution of e-cigarettes remains banned.Importing and distributing tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, was made illegal without a government license.Fadi Sanan, director of the National Tobacco Control Program, told The Daily Star the government maintained its position on the ban, saying there were "no studies" on the health effects.Once in the country, using e-cigarettes is legal, but users remain discreet.
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