Trump To Roll Back E-cig Rules?

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As vaping has escalated in popularity over the past year, tobacco companies are focusing on new smoking products, which are potentially less harmful. With Trump now in his full role of presidency, the industry sees an opening for rolling back rules on these products.

In November, Trump’s surprise election victory, and his pledges to reduce federal regulations on business, led tobacco lobby groups to create a new plan of action. The immediate objective is to delay the implementation of new regulations on the current generation of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices. These devices produce a vapour from liquid nicotine rather than burning tobacco.

Longer-term, they are setting their sights on repealing the 2016 law that treats these devices like cigarettes. Lobbyists have described a wary optimism as they approach lawmakers with their plans for products that they say can help traditional smokers quit and avoid the well-known health threats caused by tobacco.

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With US sales of conventional cigarettes decreasing, Big Tobacco has made a major gamble in the past few years, flying the flag for the e-cigarette industry. Last week, British American Tobacco Plc announced a US$49bn deal to take over competitor Reynolds American, uniting two of the largest e-cigarette players in the United States and United Kingdom and becoming a huge rival to Philip Morris International and US partner Altria Group.

“Suddenly things that were not conceivable became something we thought we could do,” said Cynthia Cabrera, former president and executive director for the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA).

While the potential health risks and benefits of e-cigarettes are still being studied and debated, with regulators in different countries interpreting the evidence in different ways, some industry voices are saying that a change in US regulations could hurt the smaller companies there and cripple development and innovation in the country’s e-cigarette industry.

Smoking cessation for Syrians?

The influx of Syrians to Germany has led many media sources to forecast a huge increase in cigarette sales. Around half of Syrian men smoke (according to the WHO), and with around 800,000 refugees entering the country in 2015, analysts reckon this will push cigarette sales up by 1% in an industry worth over €20bn.

Among discussions of how to physically accommodate the new refugees have been debates over state allowances afforded to them – they receive a monthly allowance of €143 for the first 3 months of entering the country and €300 thereafter. A pack of cigarettes costs well over €5 in Germany. A lot could therefore be gained by OTC marketers offering either free samples of smoking cessation options to Syrians, or starter packs at heavily reduced rates. Beyond saving money and improving respiratory health, even if only for a week or 2, it may also encourage refugees to seek out other health products in local pharmacies.

Some companies are admirably providing assistance to Syrian women and children by providing care packs containing body lotions, moisturising towels and underwear. While many may not consider a pack of nicotine gum or patches to be a truly necessary addition, they could go a long way to helping recipients stop for good, and ultimately save lives.

OTC experts on Germany, Austria and Poland will all be speaking at our 27th European Conference and Action Workshop in Krakow 13-15th April 2016. For more information on how to book at early bird rates, contact jennifer.odonnell@NicholasHall.com.