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Product standards and regulation

We're setting the bar on high standards

We are leading the way in advocating and collaborating on robust products standards and responsible marketing for Next Generation Products.

We know that some people have concerns regarding the safety of Next Generation Products. There is also uncertainty about how new products should be regulated.

This can be confusing for consumers, while some governments have responded with overly restrictive regulation, such as bans on advertising, which could stifle growth and the potential benefits these products could bring.

This is why it’s crucial for consistent product standards and marketing rules to be in place. We believe that high product standards, agreed by all relevant parties and based on robust science, are needed to ensure consumer safety and confidence. We also think the growth of new products should be supported by controlled marketing and advertising rules aimed at adult consumers only.

Because these aren’t currently available, we have voluntarily developed and implemented our own approaches.

Robust product assessment

Our team of scientists, covering many disciplines, scrutinise every single detail of our products for safety and quality – from what goes into the e-liquids to the vapour that comes out.

We have developed these robust product assessment procedures through cutting-edge science and peer-reviewed research. This includes our research published in 2015 on toxicological risk assessment of e-liquid flavours and ingredients1, and tests to investigate the effects of vapour in Next Generation Products compared with cigarette smoke2.

The early-stage results of the latter study found over 90% reductions in vapour toxicity compared with cigarette smoke.

Responsible marketing

To provide a globally consistent and responsible approach to the marketing of our Vapour Products, in 2015 we developed and published new Vapour Products Marketing Principles, aligned to the UK Committees of Advertising Practice Codes.

Our core Vapour Products Marketing Principles are:

Targeted - we will target our Vapour Product marketing at adults.

Transparent - we will be clear and factual about our Vapour Products and their potential risks.

Focused - we will market our Vapour Products to smokers and consumers of vapour and nicotine products.

Distinct - we will not promote combustible tobacco products through our Vapour Product marketing.

Consistent standards

We’d like to see the same high standards and responsible approach across the whole industry, so we continue to advocate for, and collaboratively develop, consistent national and international standards and regulation.

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 have also developed and shared a new scientific framework3 to assess the relative risks of new products which uses lab-based and clinical tests, along with real-world observations. This framework could be used to provide an evidence base for regulating different products appropriate to their risk profile.

Leading in online age verification

We are also looking closely at the sale of Vapour Products online and how to deal with the risk that they 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 worked with a global provider of online age-verification solutions and implemented them through our govype websites in the UK and subsequent launch 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.

[1] An approach to ingredient screening and toxicological risk assessment of flavours in e-liquids, Costigan, S., Meredith, C., Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 2015.
[2] Development of an in vitro cytotoxicity model for aerosol exposure using 3D reconstructed human airway tissue; application for assessment of e-cigarette aerosol, Neilson, L., Mankus, C.,Thorne, D., Jackson, G., DeBay, J., Meredith, C., Toxicology in Vitro, 2015.
[3] A framework for the biological assessment of reduced risk tobacco and nicotine products, Lowe, F., Fearon, I.F., Camarcho, O.M., Minet, E. and Murphy, J. Recent Advances in Tobacco Science, 2015.

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