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Global standards for vaping products essential to promote innovation

R&D at British American Tobacco

Against a backdrop of a growing number of e-cigarette users globally, British American Tobacco (BAT) is leading efforts to develop and harmonise standards around vaping products to further reassure consumers of these products potential in reducing the harm from smoking.

Marina Trani, Head of R&D of Nicoventures (a wholly owned subsidiary of British American Tobacco) will tell delegates at the EuroScience Open Forum 2016 on July 26th that standards need to be harmonised in order to promote innovation. ‘Different rules in different jurisdictions make it overly burdensome and expensive, especially for smaller companies. It stifles growth and innovation, which in turn could stifle the potential these products have for reducing the harm of smoking,’ she said.

The EU and the US, for example, are worlds apart in terms of how they regulate e-cigarettes. Draft regulations in the US (to be enacted in August) will require pre-approval before any change is made to a vaping product. Whereas, the EU Tobacco Products Directive requires a less restrictive six month prior notification (rather than approval) for ‘substantial modification.’ There is a growing body of evidence that e-cigarettes are substantially safer than cigarettes. Kevin Fenton, Public Health England’s Director of Health and Wellbeing, recently said, ‘The wider body of evidence consistently finds that e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking.’

British American Tobacco was the first tobacco company to launch an e-cigarette in 2013 and has been proactive in both developing the first voluntary product standard with the British Standards Institute (BSI), advocating for more harmonised standards and is currently actively contributing to the European standards development work.

BAT has taken a particular leadership position in toxicological risk assessment through the publication of its 2015 best practice guide for how to comply with that aspect of the BSI guidelines. Dr Sandra Costigan, Principal Toxicologist at Nicoventures, explains how the guide helps to safety assess flavours for inhalation rather than ingestion. Costigan says ‘safe to eat is not the same as safe to inhale’ .The guide sets out a scientific rationale that will help determine if particular flavours can be used safely.

As Trani will reinforce at the ESOF, the vaping industry should continue on a journey towards standards that can protect consumers, increase understanding of next generation products, are clear and harmonized globally while not inhibiting innovation.

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