Our preferred approach to regulating Vapour Products (e-cigarettes)
The use of Vapour Products (e-cigarettes) that are manufactured to robust quality and safety standards is considered to be significantly less risky to health than smoking conventional cigarettes1. That’s why we believe e-cigarettes should not be regulated in the same way as cigarettes.
Many governments are still unsure how to regulate e-cigarettes. This was a key topic under discussion at the sixth conference of parties of the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2014. We welcome its decision to establish an independent expert group to look at the growing weight of scientific evidence regarding e-cigarettes.
We think overly restrictive regulation, such as bans or excise taxes similar to those for regular cigarettes, could be counterproductive. It stifles growth and innovation, and prevents smokers becoming aware of and accessing them. Different products need to be regulated appropriately according to their risk profile.
We think regulations should reflect the growing acceptance among many health professionals2 that nicotine products such as Vapour Products (e-cigarettes) have huge potential to improve public health by helping people to cut down or quit smoking by choosing less risky alternatives.
We hope that the growing weight of evidence and arguments in support of tobacco harm reduction which are being made by the scientific community, public health campaigners and the tobacco industry will help to guide future decision making.
Of course, we do not oppose regulation of Vapour Products (e-cigarettes). In fact, we are actively advocating for regulation.
We are advocating for regulation that has high consumer safety and product quality standards and restricts sales to over 18s, while enabling companies to freely innovate, and to distribute and market their products responsibly.
In 2015, we worked with the British Standards Institution and AFNOR, the French standards association, to develop new safety standards for Vapour Products. For now, they remain voluntary, but they have set an important benchmark for best practice globally.
We believe these principles should underpin Vapour Products (e-cigarettes) regulation:
As part of our commitment to upholding high standards for all our products, regardless of the regulatory environment, we have adopted a robust approach to product stewardship, appropriate warnings on all our packaging and responsible marketing directed only at adult smokers – all of which we will continually monitor.
Our Vapour Products Marketing Principles provide a responsible and consistent approach to all of our marketing activities for this important category.
In May 2014, 53 international specialists in public health policy and nicotine science wrote to the World Health Organisation calling on it to embrace the potential of tobacco harm reduction products like e-cigarettes to reduce the burden of smoking-related disease.
They said the urge to control and suppress e-cigarettes as tobacco products should be resisted. Instead “regulation that is fit-for-purpose and designed to realise their potential should be championed."
They added: “We are deeply concerned that the classification of these products as tobacco… will do more harm than good, and obstruct efforts to meet the targets to reduce non-communicable disease we are all committed to."