Tobacco Reporter https://tobaccoreporter.com Wed, 27 Oct 2021 20:21:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8 https://tobaccoreporter.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/08/cropped-tr-square-32x32.png Tobacco Reporter https://tobaccoreporter.com 32 32 40097748 David Levy https://tobaccoreporter.com/2021/10/27/david-levy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=david-levy Wed, 27 Oct 2021 20:20:53 +0000 https://tobaccoreporter.com/?p=76947 Market structure and competition

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Photo: Malcolm Griffiths

In his keynote speech, David Levy, professor of oncology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., looked at the divide between public health and the industry, which, he indicated, judging from GTNF discussions, might not be as great as he had thought—although, it might be greater in some parts of the market than in others. One of the topics perhaps most overlooked in the discussion about harm reduction, he pointed out, was market structure and competition, which generally play an important underlying role. “They are not only important in understanding the use pattern itself but also in the interaction between public health policies and the industry,” he said.

Levy distinguished between the industry before 2005 and after. Pre-2005, it was clear to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and in general, that cigarettes were a distinct market. Since the 1950s, the industry had become increasingly concentrated, with Altria gaining a 40 percent-plus market share, making it a dominant player. The industry of that time was also characterized by high barriers to entry—it effectively controlled retail shelf space, thereby limiting competition, introduced predatory pricing and used a coupon system for customer loyalty. The lines were clearly drawn; there was stability. Tobacco control had a number of policies, and their target was clear.

Around 2005, the market started to change. Price sensitivity of consumers increased. U.S. smokers started to switch to other products, at first to little cigars and later to vaping. The market suddenly became much broader than cigarettes. “One of the most important changes was that sales of vape products took place on the internet and in vape shops—a whole new arena,” Levy explained. “Both [sales points] also played an important role in providing information on the new products.” Levy doesn’t expect the heated-tobacco products sector to see the same competition as e-cigarettes. The current tobacco market, he pointed out, showed an exceptionally steep decline in youth and young adult smokers, which have fallen by 60 percent since 2013. Levy called this a vital alteration.

He predicted stricter policies toward cigarettes worldwide, including the introduction of health warnings, menthol bans and a higher selling age. “Pressure on cigarettes will increase,” he said. For vape products, Levy forecast, the future was uncertain. The outlook for the industry remains unclear in the wake of the marketing denial orders issued to tobacco companies after Sept. 9, according to Levy. “I don’t think it’s the final word from the Food and Drug Administration,” he said. Levy suggested the industry accept the uncertainty—which he thought was here to stay—and embrace change. The United Kingdom and New Zealand with their progressive tobacco harm reduction policies provided examples for others to follow. “Things will slowly change,” said Levy.

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Science https://tobaccoreporter.com/2021/10/27/science/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=science Wed, 27 Oct 2021 20:14:11 +0000 https://tobaccoreporter.com/?p=76941 Driving innovation

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Photo: Malcolm Griffiths

Regulators globally are becoming more understanding of what they expect next-generation tobacco products to accomplish. Regulators want manufacturers to demonstrate, on a product-specific basis, whether the vaping products are a benefit to combustible cigarette smokers. More importantly, manufacturers must ensure that vulnerable populations such as youth are not using these products.

During the lunchtime GTNF panel “Science Driving Innovation,” one speaker also mentioned that manufacturers must be more conscious about the environmental impacts of vaping products too. The environment is a big issue in the minds of governments, regulators and society as a whole. The panelists agreed that vaping manufacturers should produce products that are environmentally sustainable.

“Think about all the batteries that go to waste every time an e-cigarette is disposed of. What are we doing as an industry to address the fundamental questions that society and regulators are concerned about?” a panelist asked. “We need to start thinking about what views of science we need to really put our investments in [and start] focusing on going into the future.”

Another major industry concern that should be addressed through innovation is youth initiation. One panelist said this topic should be a primary focus of scientific efforts relating to vaping products. Reduced-risk products must exist for adult smokers, so it’s imperative that the industry proactively addresses the underage use issue. “If we don’t, others will try to do it for us, and then collectively, we will all compromise the potential that [we are focusing on during the conference] today,” one panelist said. “It’s a critical balance. It’s important that we offer adult smokers an alternative, and we can also combat underage use. We can do both, and we must because there’s too much at stake if we don’t.”

Another speaker discussed her company’s global retailer compliance monitoring program. The company sends thousands of “mystery shoppers” into U.S. retail outlets that sell its vaping products and collects data around whether the retailers are abiding by federal age verification laws and/or other local policies.

“What we found is that retailers need help. There’s a lot going on in this world. We help them by providing information on how they’re performing, education and training, and we can also assist in changing their existing point-of-sale technology,” she said. “It can actually prompt the clerks to check ID when they’re selling an interesting new product. And it alleviates the mental burden on their end.”

Another concern for the industry that can be addressed through innovation is improving nicotine delivery and satisfaction. That satisfaction delivered by products today is not enough to sustain the large number of people we want to see switching from cigarettes to electronic nicotine-delivery systems.

“To achieve meaningful harm reduction, we need these products to appeal to and be affordable to most adult cigarette smokers. Which means those consumers would need to like the product and be able to afford the product,” a speaker said. “They need to be able to trust these products, and it requires a significant investment in innovation if you want to do it properly.”

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Innovation https://tobaccoreporter.com/2021/10/27/innovation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=innovation Wed, 27 Oct 2021 20:08:21 +0000 https://tobaccoreporter.com/?p=76935 The path to progress

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Photo: Malcolm Griffiths

Innovation is grounded in regulation. Regulators can either embrace innovation as a tool to support harm reduction, or they can regulate them to the point that any innovation is impossible to bring to market. During the GTNF panel Innovation as the Path to Progress, one speaker explained that the U.S. Tobacco Control Act was written with the goal that the state of public health will change over time. The idea is that as smokers quit and product standards are implemented, many may migrate to products lower on the risk continuum. As a result, as the state of public health changes, the products that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration determines to be appropriate for the protection of the public health (APPH) will also change.

“If you think about the significance of the innovation of the e-cigarette, today we have major companies that are in the tobacco space talking about eliminating combustion altogether,” a panelist noted. “We have companies giving up their entire combustible segments, and that would not have happened, in my opinion, had it not been for the innovators.”

Making innovative progress in the vapor industry is measured by transitioning adult smokers to noncombustible products, according to the panel. However, there are many avenues to accomplish this goal as well as numerous obstacles. One speaker offered the audience three focus areas that he described as the pillars of innovation. The first pillar is product innovation. “If the product is not satisfying, people are not going to switch,” the speaker said. “In order to get there, we will need a very disciplined, science-based approach in understanding some of the questions underlying satisfaction. As we think about innovation and product innovation, it’s important for smokers to have a range of products to choose from.”

The second pillar is scientific innovation. There must be a comprehensive assessment of science to demonstrate that a product is APPH, and while all novel products tobacco products must be held to this high standard, it is rigorous and takes time. There are innovations in scientific methodologies that must be made, the speaker explained.

The speaker cited dissolution methods to understand nicotine release profiles and computation of toxicology as examples of tools that can help accelerate this pathway for getting products in the market. “Along with that, I think that regulators have an opportunity to create some innovative processes,” the speaker said. “For example, establishing product standards that will hopefully help these products be reviewed in an expedited manner, and most importantly, get them in the hands of consumers.”

The third pillar is communication. The industry needs to make clear the benefit to smokers by switching to noncombustible products. The industry needs to address the misperceptions surrounding nicotine and the wrong assumption nicotine causes cancer. “This clouds the decision-making process of adult smokers,” the speaker said. “As manufacturers in the U.S., we have to seek FDA authorization before we can communicate a modified-risk or modified-exposure order. That, too, is important but time-consuming and resource intensive. This is a responsibility for everybody to explore innovative communication approaches that can address these misperceptions.”

Another area ripe for innovation in the electronic nicotine-delivery system industry is environmental sustainability. For example, e-cigarette batteries contain heavy metals. The industry must innovate battery technology that will reduce their products’ environmental impact. Responsible disposal of any product is important. Regulation can also impact environmental issues. In the U.K., for example, requiring 10 mL bottles instead of larger bottles creates more waste.

Finally, synthetic nicotine also offers innovative advancements for next-generation products. “I think that when we talk about moving away from combustion, that is one thing, but when we talk about moving away from tobacco—in other words, giving consumers a truly tobacco-free option—that’s where science comes in,” a panelist explained. “The promise that is involved with synthetic nicotine is significant. They need to research it closely and recognize that it does provide certain benefits that perhaps the tobacco-derived nicotine does not.”

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Frank Han https://tobaccoreporter.com/2021/10/27/frank-han/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=frank-han Wed, 27 Oct 2021 20:02:17 +0000 https://tobaccoreporter.com/?p=76929 Exciting innovations the vapor industry

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Photo: Malcolm Griffiths

During a keynote address for GTNF, Frank Han, senior vice president of Shenzhen SMOORE Technology Co. and CEO of its FEELM business division, said that there are exciting innovations—big and small—happening every day in the vaping industry. Vaping products using FEELM atomization technology have now reached millions of users in more than 50 countries.

“Vaporization technology is still just at the beginning; we could welcome the opportunity for innovation to create a better life together … Basic Science Innovation has been the cornerstone for sustainable growth; it is the science of atomization that we need to build as the foundation supporting the industry,” he said, speaking through an interpreter. “As a firm believer of innovation, SMOORE has integrated disciplines like engineering thermodynamics and biomedical sciences into our atomization research.”

SMOORE has been actively learning to understand and assess the long-term health effects of vaping, according to Han. The company currently has seven research centers between the U.S. and China, “bringing in global talents” from different backgrounds. In addition to in-house R&D resources and efforts, SMOORE is also focused on partnering with leading universities to transform the company’s scientific discoveries into applied technologies. “The way vape products are manufactured is also constantly evolving; more effectively and definitely more environmentally friendly,” said Han.

SMOORE had begun operations using the first fully automated pod production line in the world. Each new manufacturing (single) line can produce 7,200 standard vaporizers per hour, double the previous generation’s output. “We have been working with business partners to improve sustainable practices in all stages of product development, especially manufacturing with the common goal of reducing carbon footprint,” said Han.

SMOORE is currently evaluating the underlying technology of atomization for its potential applications in other fields. “With one direction of our R&D focus on the atomization application in healthcare, I am proud that SMOORE has made progress on the research of atomized medication, along with partners from different sectors,” Han said. “The initial results are all positive. We are hoping in the near future, more and more people might be able to inhale medicines or even vaccines with atomization devices.”

Looking ahead at the vaping industry overall, Han said that policymakers and NGOs must be inclusive. Regulation has been a heated topic recently in both the U.S. and China, and while institutional innovations to promote healthy industry development and more balanced regulations are needed, regulators must also embrace vaping as a strategy to improve public health while safeguarding against youth initiation, he said.

“The global media must also be inclusive. We must value the media that report from an unbiased perspective, involving more people in the public dialogue on vaping, discussing the pros and cons and discovering the truth,” said Han. “I’d like to share an old Chinese saying here: ‘Though the road ahead is dangerous and difficult, we can only achieve our goals with constant efforts.’ We must press ahead with a sense of perseverance to expect a better future.”

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Consumers https://tobaccoreporter.com/2021/10/27/consumers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=consumers Wed, 27 Oct 2021 19:55:46 +0000 https://tobaccoreporter.com/?p=76923 The key stakeholders

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Malcolm Griffiths

For many people, the threats they face in day-to-day life are far more immediate than their long-term health. The mission of harm reduction should be to empower people to make their own choices about what products they consume and their own health decisions, even if those decisions don’t align with what public health experts would say is optimal. This was the general focus during a plenary panel discussion at the GTNF called Consumers: The Key Stakeholders.

Most of the session centered consumers standing up and advocating for the industry, the global attacks on flavored e-liquids and growing threats from the World Health Organization (WHO), which remains suspicious of tobacco harm reduction. Panelists agreed that while some consumers prefer to remain on the sidelines, many others are willing to get organized and campaign for tobacco harm reduction and the vaping industry. “The consumer voice is very powerful,” a panelist said.

A major concern for the vaping industry is the concerted campaign against flavors. Flavors, according to one panelist, are used to by the industry’s enemies to redirect the conversation toward children. “They’ll say vaping flavors attracts children, and then they get us to play in their playground,” he said. “It’s very different. You [consumers] have got to keep asserting that adults use flavors.”

The WHO is a threat no matter what, the panel agreed. The global health body is now even talking about redefining smoke to include anything that’s heated and emits a vapor. “This means that any customizability of a product will be restricted and have limits on it, which basically means all the vape products will be the same,” explained one panelist. “These [recommendations] have to be resisted. The WHO doesn’t make laws, but it’s very influential, and these things can’t just be waved away.”

The scientific studies the WHO uses to justify its negative view toward next-generation products as tools for harm reduction are “fantasy and cherry-picked” studies, according to another speaker. “The people who are against harm reduction will never sleep. They’re always working, and they’re highly funded,” a panelist said. “[Consumers] have to stay alert, and they have to stay organized because, at the end of the day, there are more consumers than there are activists against harm reduction, and we’ll vote. So, consumers really have a big role to play.”

Consumers are the key stakeholders. However, when talking about consumers, regulators must acknowledge that not every smoker is the same, according to the panel. Many smokers don’t want to quit combustibles. “The important thing is to understand why and respect their choice,” a panelist said.

One speaker said that the industry also needs more responsible vape reviewers on YouTube because the current ones “are absolutely appalling.” The speaker urged consumers to make their voices heard in politics. “You’ve got to have somehow to get ahold of your Parliamentarians or your politicians in your country and get them to campaign on your behalf because there are many, many consumers, but you haven’t got great voice in government, and that’s what you really need to try and get,” he said.

At the end of the session, an audience member asked the panel if it could see a situation where consumers would sue regulators over counterproductive rules, such as flavor bans. “I have mentioned the fact that it would be interesting if someone could do a test case, but I don’t know whether that someone could come from the consumer side and sue [over regulatory action],” the panelist said. “It’s also expensive, and someone will end up having to pay if you lose.”

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From Local to Global https://tobaccoreporter.com/2021/10/27/from-local-to-global/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=from-local-to-global Wed, 27 Oct 2021 17:30:44 +0000 https://tobaccoreporter.com/?p=76911 Examining regulatory policy trends

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Photo: Malcolm Griffiths

African countries tend to formulate health policies based on advice from the World Health Organization, a strategy that is problematic when it comes to tobacco harm reduction (THR) aspects of tobacco control, participants at the 2021 Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum (GTNF) were told. The nub of the problem is that tobacco control advice is filtered through the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which was written toward the end of the last century in an attempt to deal with the ill effects of combustible tobacco. Consequently, since no attempt has been made to write a new framework relevant for the innovative noncombustible products developed this century, the WHO has no adequate framework with which to help governments regulate these new products appropriately.

These points were made during the plenary panel “From Local to Global: Regulatory Policy Trends.”

Of course, there is something odd here because the direction of policy travel—or, at least, the policy-advice travel—is in the opposite direction to that suggested in the session’s title: It goes from global to national. But that should not be interpreted as the reason for its failings. Things can fall apart just as easily when traveling in the other direction.

In the U.S., states and other jurisdictions have imposed restrictions on reduced-risk products that have caused increases in smoking, which they were designed to reduce, and increases in sales of illicit products. But at least there is something of a bright side here if you believe that government policymaking is evidence based. In not working, these restrictions provide evidence to use against suggestions that they should be applied more widely, even at a national level.

I’m not sure that I’m convinced in this matter, but then I come from the land where a lot of people still cleave to the idea that Brexit was a good move: the idea that by becoming more insular we would become more global.

There is no doubt, however, that the interactions between the local and the global are complex. One presentation made the point that a main principle in respect of environmental issues was that there was a need to think globally while acting locally, something that was applicable in respect of tobacco harm reduction. The FCTC had a floor but no ceiling, so it was up to individual countries to adapt the convention’s articles to suit national, regional and local circumstances. While countries had circumstances that differed one to the other, there existed, too, internal differences. The U.K. had seen a significant reduction in the consumption of combustible tobacco products but not among its marginalized communities. And in Brazil, while tobacco smoking had fallen significantly in urban areas, this phenomenon had not been reflected in the countryside.

One question that arises from this is, how local do you go? If you return to the title of the session, it is obvious that there is a glaring omission: smokers. OK, you might argue rightly that smokers aren’t involved in policymaking; we’re not debating in ancient Athens, but surely, they should get a look in—even a walk-on, nonspeaking part? No. The session was told it was obvious from the documents released ahead of the FCTC’s Conference of the Parties (COP9) in November that smokers, who were not at the center when the FCTC was developed, were not meant to be at the center of the upcoming debates. It seemed as though it was easier to ignore them, and this raised a social justice issue.

Many of the presentations at the session tended toward simply describing the counterproductive nature of much tobacco and nicotine regulation, especially, but by no means exclusively, in Canada and the U.S.—counterproductive, that is, given the original objective was to drain the harm caused by the consumption of combustible tobacco products. Such regulation was focused largely on flavors and nicotine and justified often on the need to protect young people, even though there was little credible justification for such actions.

Things are different in China, where, it was said, optimists in the electronic cigarette business broadly welcomed a move by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to bring these products into line with regulations governing combustible cigarettes. It was hoped that such regulation, designed in part to protect consumers, would bring clarity to the operation of an industry that had so far been largely unregulated while growing rapidly and imposing its own standards in such areas as youth protection and recycling.

We live in interesting times, and the most interesting regulatory issue on the horizon has to be that concerning synthetic nicotine.

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Getting to Net Zero https://tobaccoreporter.com/2021/10/27/getting-to-net-zero/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=getting-to-net-zero Wed, 27 Oct 2021 17:21:11 +0000 https://tobaccoreporter.com/?p=76905 sustainable strategies to stamp out illegal trade of tobacco products

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Photo: Malcolm Griffiths

Globally, illicit tobacco consumption continues to rise. The organized criminal gangs behind tobacco smuggling are clever, creative and adoptive, hence concerted actions are needed to successfully combat their activities. Razvan Dina, police subcommissioner for the Directorate of Preventing and Countering Illegal Migration and Crossborder Crime within the Romanian Border Police, described how the black market in his country in 2021 had decreased in most regions as a consequence of authorities’ efforts and a communication campaign that made consumers aware that buying illicit tobacco products was no victimless crime. Romania shares a long border with non-European Union (EU) countries Moldova and Serbia, where cigarettes are up to four times cheaper. In the first half of this year, police seized 45 percent more illicit tobacco than it did in the first half of 2020.

 

Sergio Miranda, underground economy specialist in the Quebec police force, presented the Canadian province’s widely recognized anti-black market squad program, ACCES, which was introduced in the 1990s and basically creates ad hoc financing that is given to governmental agencies to fight illicit trade and redirect users to the legal market. Consisting of undercover agents, intelligence officers and technical and strategic analysts, the task force creates medium-term and long-term investigation teams and promotes partnerships with police forces of other provinces and the U.S. The squad focuses on alcohol, tobacco, gaming and cannabis. With regard to illicit tobacco, Canada’s main problem was the massive amounts of illegally imported cut rag tobacco, which were made into tobacco products and redistributed across the border, Miranda said. With the help of ACCES and increased enforcement, the illegal tobacco market in Quebec could be reduced from 40 percent to 12 percent.

 

Whether consumers turn to illicit products is mostly an issue of affordability, according to Lawrence Hutter, senior adviser for Alvarez & Marsal, who published a report on the topic. The study, which analyzed data from 71 countries across 15 years, representing 82 percent of global cigarette volume and 92 percent of global cigarette retail volume, found that around the world, tobacco taxation overwhelmingly was the key driver for smokers to turn to illegal products. If cigarettes became 10 percent more expensive relative to income, illegal trade grew by 7 percent, the report showed. Valuable lessons, Hutter indicated, came from Romania, Latvia and Malaysia, where sudden increases in tobacco tax caused significant spikes in illicit cigarette consumption.

 

Sharing his 30 years of experience investigating terrorism crimes with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Ian Monteith, global anti-illicit trade operations director at Japan Tobacco International, drew a disturbing picture of the criminals behind tobacco smuggling. Like the mafia, they deal in anything that will make them money. In Asia, he pointed out, the Covid-19 pandemic had brought about a new form of slavery—bondage labor. If people couldn’t repay high-interest loans, organized crime gangs took their children and compelled them to forced labor. Consumers who buy illegal products support this system, he stressed.

 

In the EU, the pandemic also changed organized crime’s operations. With borders suddenly being closed, traffickers could no longer use their traditional routes and had to move illicit cigarette production into the EU. Illegal factories emerged for the first time in Belgium and the Netherlands, from where criminals targeted the high-price U.K. and Northern Ireland markets.

 

The number of illicit plants has been increasing, and buying tobacco machinery on the internet is easy. A lot of the equipment comes from China. On the positive side, Covid-related border closures restricted the availability of illicit products, especially tobacco. The U.K. earned an extra £1.4 billion ($1.36 billion) in tobacco revenues as a result.

 

To successfully combat illicit trade, panelists agreed, governments need to realize that well-intended tax and public health policies can inadvertently boost organized crime. They should step up enforcement and explain to the public that buying illicit products is no victimless crime. And they should forge partnerships. The battle against illicit trade can be won only through a joint effort by law enforcement, public health professionals, policymakers and legitimate tobacco companies.

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The Fork in the Road https://tobaccoreporter.com/2021/10/27/the-fork-in-the-road/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-fork-in-the-road Wed, 27 Oct 2021 17:12:49 +0000 https://tobaccoreporter.com/?p=76899 What is next for tobacco and nicotine

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Photo: Malcolm Griffiths

The vaping industry faces many challenges. The road to a viable future for these products must pass through sensible regulations based on science. In the current environment, unfortunately, this will be challenging, according to speakers on the GTNF plenary panel The Fork in the Road: What is Next for Tobacco and Nicotine. Misperceptions surrounding nicotine and vaping products, the panelists agreed, are furthered by the mass media’s “wonton disregard” for the science behind the tobacco harm reduction potential of electronic nicotine-delivery systems (ENDS).

One speaker noted that in addition to many countries banning or erecting insurmountable barriers to vaping products, well-funded anti-nicotine activists are attacking the people who are bringing reduced-risk products to adult combustible cigarette smokers trying to quit smoking. These groups are opposed to the tobacco harm reduction that science and innovation can bring.

All of these activities together only serve to enhance the vaping industry’s problem: the massive public misperception that vaping is as deadly as smoking cigarettes. The fact that a significant number of physicians mistakenly belief that nicotine, rather than combustion, is responsible for smoking-related illness, bodes ill for the perceptions among the general population. “If physicians believe this, imagine the views of the average smoker in Kenya or Chicago, Illinois, or in Australia,” one speaker said.

While anti-nicotine activists have done their share to misperceptions, the vaping industry too is partly to blame, according to one panelist. The ENDS industry can do a lot more than feel helpless or complain, this speaker noted. Innovation in harm reduction cannot occur without the vaping industry’s support. That means responsible marketing, combating illicit trade, limiting youth access and making sure that the ENDS industry is doing what it can to prevent underage use.

Panelists also expressed concern about the direction of the vapor market in the wake of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s marketing denial orders (MDOs), with some describing a “Wild West” scenario. After receiving MDOs, some companies have turned to synthetic nicotine because that product currently is outside of the agency’s jurisdiction. A panelist said that the FDA’s “scorched earth” approach to flavored products is only creating bigger problems in the market, adding that if a market isn’t regulated, there is still going to be an unregulated illicit market that has the potential to be more deadly than that for combustible tobacco.

“Nobody wants kids to take up the products … it’s a very significant responsibility that we in industry be there to be the stewards of that concept in generating science and evidence,” a panelist said. “We should all be proud of the good science that is being generated … that is our responsibility: to generate and publish and participate in the scientific debate and pursue reasonable regulation. What is reasonable? I don’t know. It’s not going to be nothing. We all have to get over it and figure out what is the right way forward so we can go back to helping the consumer and making sure we’re only serving smokers who are looking for alternatives to combustibles.”

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Diversity and Inclusion https://tobaccoreporter.com/2021/10/27/diversity-and-inclusion/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=diversity-and-inclusion Wed, 27 Oct 2021 17:05:46 +0000 https://tobaccoreporter.com/?p=76892 Agents of change

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Photo: Malcolm Griffiths

“Diversity is being asked to the party; inclusion is being invited to dance.” As the tobacco and nicotine products industries undergo a period of transition, leadership needs to change too. During the Women in Tobacco meeting at the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum (GTNF) 2021, panelists looked at how diversity and inclusion can contribute to this transformation. “If the industry doesn’t embrace diversity at all levels—not only on the management board—if it doesn’t adapt, then it will sadly shrink and die,” said Nermeen Varawalla, chief medical officer and head of clinical development at pharmaceutical company Atlantic Healthcare. “Within the industry, players who adapt will be the winners and the forerunners.”

Carlista Moore Conde, group head of new sciences at BAT, left Procter and Gamble after 20 years and joined BAT in order to become part of this transformation process. BAT, she confirmed, was quite serious about change. With these vectors of difference, as she called them, she had to learn how to quickly build familiarity with people that perhaps wouldn’t necessarily interact with someone like her, a female scientist with an African-American background in a leadership role. She found she could solve this issue by being proactive in joining with coworkers and sharing her story as a way to connect.

Diversity, behavioral scientist and consultant Lawrence Kutner pointed out, often was defined in too narrow terms, referring mostly to the phenotype. However, diversity was about effectiveness, insight, taking advantage about multiple perspectives. “When we use that word, ‘diversity,’ we tend to oversimplify and lose sight of the goal. So that’s one of the things that I, in running organizations, try to consciously avoid.”

Introducing her new book, Leading with Love—Rehumanizing the Workplace, Karen Blakeley, an independent academic, leadership coach and teacher, said inclusion was about respecting people and caring for them; about seeing people and their motivations; about hearing their perspective and including it into one’s worldview. “If you have tons of diversity and got no inclusion, then nothing is going to change,” she stressed. Organizations should be serving humanity and not the other way around. In the research for her book, Blakeley asked her network to nominate someone who was leading with love. While most people couldn’t think of any example, the few nominees all had “roots, values, mission and purpose.” “It was not about their career and success—they got a ‘why,’ a larger mission.” The trunk, she explained, was character. “Character building is about controlling your own needs. If you have achieved this, leading with love is embodied. You make difficult, brave decisions. You yield power, and everyone who is really interested in creating diverse and inclusive workplaces needs to learn how to use power.”

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Kingsley Wheaton https://tobaccoreporter.com/2021/10/27/kingsley-wheaton-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kingsley-wheaton-2 Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:30:30 +0000 https://tobaccoreporter.com/?p=76886 A whole-of-society approach

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Tobacco harm reduction (THR) has arrived at a critical stage, according to Kingsley Wheaton, chief marketing officer at BAT. In 2021, some countries banned or heavily restricted reduced-risk products (RRPs) despite the scientific evidence supporting their benefits. If the World Health Organization tries to further choke off the category during its meeting in November, that would seriously undermine progress in RRPs. “THR is neither a battle to be won nor lost; it’s about science, consumer choice and the need for pragmatic solutions,” said Wheaton. “If we fail to come together and find solutions, then there will be no winners. It will be hard to imagine anything more damaging to global THR efforts than further exclusion of these alternative products.”

While RRPs are not completely risk free, they are far safer than combustible products. About 100 million smokers have already switched to RRPs. Restricting access to RRPs, Wheaton said, was both misguided and repressive. “In light of evidence showing that former smokers might revert to combustible cigarettes, governments should be revoking bans on alternative products, not introducing them,” he noted. “A whole-of-society approach is required.”

Maximizing the impact of THR requires an evidence-based approach, proportionate regulations, freedom to innovate, engagement in dialogue and communication, and responsible marketing practices, according to Wheaton.

The impact of THR could be larger still if the scientific community paid serious attention to the potential of RRPs to help adult smokers. Wheaton cited a massive study of BAT’s Glo tobacco-heating product (see “Milestone Study,”. Tobacco Reporter, July 2021), which revealed biomarkers comparable to smoking cessation. Furthermore, clinical modeling data, he said, had shown that by 2100, smoking may lead to 30 million life years lost.

Wheaton emphasized his company’s commitment to encouraging smokers to switch, stressing BAT’s ambitions to have 50 million consumers for its noncombustible products by 2030. But he was concerned about the high level of misinformation among consumers. Despite the growing body of evidence supporting reduced-risk products, 62 percent of respondents to a 2018 European survey believed that e-cigarettes are more harmful than combustible cigarettes—an increase from 59 percent in 2016. “This is a development that concerns BAT, and it should concern society,” said Wheaton. “While this should be the basis of public health policy discussions, there was a vociferous minority in the public health community that did not believe in THR, causing a detrimental effect on development and ultimately holding back collective progress. “Nowhere in history has exclusion been useful—we need inclusive solutions.”

The way forward, Wheaton explained, is to continue innovation and create a vaping experience that closely mimics smoking. “Innovation should be fostered and focus on consumers’ needs,” he said.

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