Hon Lik

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Han Li (Hon Lik)
Known forInventor of the modern electronic cigarette

Han Li or Hon Lik (Chinese: 韓力; pinyin: Hán Lì; Cantonese Yale: Hon Lik) is a Chinese pharmacist who invented the modern electronic cigarette.[1]

Early life[edit]

Hon Lik (or Han Li) is a Chinese native, born in Shenyang, China in 1956. At 18 years old he worked in a rural area far away from his friends and family, where he gradually became addicted to smoking. Eventually he moved back to the city as an educated youth and became one of the first college students after the college entrance exam was restored in 1977. He majored in medicine and became a pharmacist in 1982. Looking back he is grateful for how far that major has taken him. Once he graduated with a pharmaceutical degree from Liaoning University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in 1982, he joined the Liaoning Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, where he continued his study of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy.


Ruyan devices

From 1990 to 1994, Hon Lik was the Deputy Director of Liaoning Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, where he was in charge of research and development of new botanical drugs. Beginning in October 2003, he also functioned as a Director of Western Technologies Corp.

Within his own company, he was one of the co-founders of Dragonite International Limited (Golden Dragon Group Holding Limited), a company located in Hong Kong that was divided between health care, pharmaceuticals, and electronic cigarettes. In addition to being the co-founder, Hon also served as Dragonite's Chief Executive Officer, Executive Vice Chairman, and Director for eight years from October 2005 to October 2013.[2]

Golden Dragon Group purchased the Dragonite company after the financial crisis of 2007. Later, Golden Dragon Group sold Hon's e-cigarette invention for 75 million dollars to Imperial Tobacco, the "tobacco giant" in Britain. Although that is a lot of money, Hon has said that this money had nothing to do with him, as it was a transaction between the companies. But, Hon was pleased to see the transaction price reflected the value of his e-cigarette invention.

Hon was nominated as the 2010 Kcancer Hero candidate for his invention of the e-cigarette.[3]

Hon sees the e-cigarette as comparable to the "digital camera taking over from the analog camera."[4] He has said, "My fame will follow the development of the e-cigarette industry. Maybe in 20 or 30 years I will be very famous."[4] Hon said in 2013 that "I really hope that the large international pharmaceutical groups get into manufacturing electronic cigarettes and that authorities like the FDA in the United States will continue to impose stricter and stricter standards so that the product will be as safe as possible."[5]

Invention of the e-cigarette[edit]

Hon started his whole journey with the goal to help himself quit smoking cigarettes. Little did he know that his work would be the start to a growing industry where people use his invention for exactly the same reason that he did.[6] Hon first got the idea when he forgot to remove a nicotine patch before going to bed. It was at that moment he realized the patches didn't give him the same head rush as compared to smoking and had him craving "real" cigarettes.[7]

Before e-cigarettes became a worldwide frenzy, Hon worked on other alternative ways for people to use Chinese remedies, like ginseng and deer antler.[8]

In 2001, while still on the nicotine patches, Hon devised a system using food additives as solvents. After that, he invented the e-cigarette and began filing patents on his invention around the world. During this time, he was working on vaporization by ultrasound. At first the droplets formed didn't look like tobacco smoke because they were too big. Upon trying resistance heating he achieved better results. The challenges Hon faced were trying to scale the device small enough to be hand-held and cigarette-sized, having the right amount of nicotine, and the right odors from harmless flavors.

In 2003, Hon decided to use a high frequency, piezoelectric ultrasound-emitting element in combination with a coiled heating wire to vaporize a liquid containing nicotine to produce a vapor containing nicotine. Hon filed patents on his invention in China, the United States and the European Union based on his 2003 priority application in China. The first electronic cigarette was manufactured in 2004 in Shenyang, China, and was called "Ruyan." When talking with Kaleigh Rogers, Hon mentioned that he "expected the success to be huge and because of this belief it was actually my motivation to go through a very lengthy and harsh development."[9] When companies started selling products in Europe and North America the vaping industry really took off. The first e-cigarette model was named “Ruyan,” and it consisted of three parts: a battery, a plastic cartridge containing a nicotine solution, and an atomizer that used a piezoelectric element and a heating element to vaporize the nicotine solution.[10]

The Ruyan had the same vaporization system used today, which vaporized liquid through a heating element powered by the electricity of a battery.[11] E-cigarettes today continue to use the same battery-powered heating element.[12]

In an interview with Nicolas Siridi, Hon Lik mentioned that he is working on another product, the "e-hookah", to be sold in the Middle Eastern and North African markets.[13]


  1. ^ "A high-tech approach to getting a nicotine this is very lamefix". Los Angeles Times. April 25, 2009. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  2. ^ "Lik Hon: Executive Profile & Biography - Bloomberg". www.bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2019-04-25.
  3. ^ HARRIMAN. "Hon Lik – 2010 Kcancer Hero Nominee". PRLog. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  4. ^ a b Tom Hancock (1 October 2013). "China's e-cigarette inventor fights for financial rewards". Fox News Channel.
  5. ^ Sridi, Nicolas (10 July 2013). "I was sure that the electronic cigarette would be welcomed with open arms". Sciences et Avenir.
  6. ^ "Interview With Hon Lik, Inventor of E-Cigarettes". www.bigdvapor.net. Retrieved 2019-04-25.
  7. ^ "The Story of the E-Cigarette | Fontem Ventures". Retrieved 2019-04-25.
  8. ^ Boseley, Sarah (2015-06-09). "Hon Lik invented the e-cigarette to quit smoking – but now he's a dual user". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-04-25.
  9. ^ Rogers, Kaleigh (2016-07-18). "We Asked the Inventor of the E-Cigarette What He Thinks About Vape Regulations". Motherboard. Retrieved 2019-04-26.
  10. ^ Rumble, Carambo (2018-11-26). "The Evolution of E-Cigarette Heating Technology". Medium. Retrieved 2019-04-25.
  11. ^ "Electronic Atomization Cigarette". Worldwide.espacenet.com. 22 November 2007.
  12. ^ Bhatnagar, A.; Whitsel, L. P.; Ribisl, K. M.; Bullen, C.; Chaloupka, F.; Piano, M. R.; Robertson, R. M.; McAuley, T.; Goff, D.; Benowitz, N. (24 August 2014). "Electronic Cigarettes: A Policy Statement From the American Heart Association". Circulation. 130 (16): 1418–1436. doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000107. PMID 25156991.
  13. ^ ""I was sure that the electronic cigarette would be welcomed with open arms"". Sciences et Avenir (in French). Retrieved 2019-04-25.