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Hong Kong’s health minister likened the e-cigarette trend to an epidemic on Thursday, as she defended the government’s push to remove alternative cigarettes from the market, saying they posed new challenges to the authorities’ drive to deter teenagers from picking up smoking. While seeking to prohibit the sale and supply of such products, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said, the administration was not pushing for a complete ban, as it was not trying to punish the users themselves.