Rome, July 9 - Proponents of electronic cigarettes rallied in Rome Tuesday, calling for politicians to back off on a new tax on their products. The group says the proposed tax, coupled with Italy's VAT, could raise the prices of their products by more than 58%. And it warned that as many as 5,000 people, who are employed in the industry, could lose their jobs if the tax makes business unprofitable. Proponents suggest electronic cigarettes are less of a health hazard than conventional cigarettes. However health authorities say there is as yet no evidence to support that claim.