The establishment of sensible regulation and clear product standards can help promote the growth of reduced-risk* products.
The reduced-risk products* (RRPs) market, which includes Vapour and Tobacco Heating Products, is relatively new and regulation is still in its early stages.
In New Zealand, all RRPs are now captured under New Zealand's "Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990" which was updated in November 2020.
All vapour products, tobacco heating products and smokeless tobacco products are now "Regulated Products" alongside traditional tobacco products, but with some specific exemptions aimed at "encouraging smokers to switch to significantly less harmful alternatives".**
Globally, there is a mix of attitudes between those regulators who aim to encourage the take up of products that are potentially reduced risk, and some regulators who view them more cautiously.
The UK is an example of what can happen with the support of regulators and public health bodies. Major reports on the reduced-risk potential of Vapour Products by the likes of Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians, combined with what we view as a progressive approach to regulation.
There are many stakeholders involved in this area, and only by working together can regulations be developed that have clear aims and don’t inadvertently create new problems once they’re introduced.
Taxation is one such potential problem. Evidence shows that increased excise can lead to dramatic reductions in demands for vapour products, with higher taxes artificially driving up prices, and discouraging smokers to switch.
We are not against regulation of RRPs*. In fact, we believe it is critical for creating a fertile ground for the responsible growth of reduced-risk products*, and encouraging their take-up by more adult smokers.
We actively engage with stakeholders around the world to advocate for proportionate regulation, which takes account of the relative risks but doesn’t treat these products in the same way as conventional cigarettes.
This is a fast-moving area and setting regulations in such a dynamic market is not easy. That’s why engagement with industry, public health bodies and consumers is so important for helping to ensure the regulations work and benefit public health.
Quality and safety standards – based on robust science, to ensure consumer safety and confidence.
Freedom to innovate – to give consumers more choice and satisfy their evolving needs and preferences.
Freedom to collaborate and communicate – so the public and private sectors can work together and provide meaningful and accurate information to consumers.
Appropriate taxes and excise – reflecting the relative product risks and not artificially driving up prices, which can discourage take-up by more smokers.
Freedom of access – so smokers who want to continue consuming tobacco and nicotine can easily access RRPs* wherever they can buy cigarettes.
Responsible marketing to adults only – controlled marketing and advertising rules aimed at adult consumers only
Enforceable regulation – we support regulation that is enforceable and practical for the regulator, industry and consumer.
Ensuring high quality and consumer safety is at the heart of how we design, develop and manufacture our products. We would like to see these high standards become the benchmark for the industry and future regulation. It is only with such consistent, universal standards for RRPs* that consumers and regulators will get the assurances they need.
That’s why we’ve been openly sharing our approach, contributing our expertise and participating as part of multi-stakeholder groups and consultations in the development of robust, industry-wide quality and safety standards for RRPs.*
We are also actively encouraging the industry, vapers and public health communities to collaborate in this process. We do this through our work with taskforces, such as those of the Cooperation Centre for Scientific Research Relative to Tobacco (CORESTA), and our presentations on the global implications of product standards at conferences, such as those of the Food and Drug Law Institute (FDLI), and the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum (GTNF).
We believe that high product standards, agreed by all relevant parties and based on robust science, are needed to ensure consumer safety and confidence in RRPs.* Because these aren’t currently available, we have voluntarily developed and implemented our own approaches.
Our scientists, covering many disciplines, scrutinise every single detail of our products for safety and quality. We have developed robust product assessment procedures through cutting-edge science and peer-reviewed research.
This includes our research published on topics such as the toxicological risk assessment of e-liquid flavours and tests to investigate the effects of vapour in RRPs,* compared with cigarette smoke.
We also look closely at the sale of RRPs* online and how to deal with the risk that these age-restricted products could end up in the hands of under-18s. There are currently no universally agreed standards for online age verification for access to age-restricted products and services – we believe these need to exist.
We have worked with a global provider of online age-verification solutions and implemented them on sites in various markets. We have also worked with the UK Digital Policy Alliance, together with representatives from other industries with age-restricted sites and products, to find ways of ensuring appropriate online age verification.
*Based on the weight of evidence and assuming a complete switch from cigarette smoking. These products are not risk free and are addictive.