WASHINGTON— The scientific, academic and manufacturing communities gathered to discuss vaping and electronic cigarettes at the third annual E-Cigarette Summit, with at least four key areas of concern emerging as unsettled topics of debate, according to a tobacco analyst in attendance.
Held April 29 in Washington, D.C., the summit hosted 250 participants from the scientific, public health, legal, government, tobacco and consumer-advocacy communities and focused on regulatory and policy issues as they pertained to user health and concerns about youth initiation to tobacco, said Bonnie Herzog, managing director of consumer equity research for Wells Fargo Securities, New York.
In a recent newsletter, Herzog said presenters pulled from experiences in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada to guide discussions, with most participants believing e-cigarettes fell onto the less-harmful side of the so-called continuum of risk with regard to tobacco use.
The conference identified four key areas of continuing debate …
Questions still remain over whether e-cigarettes are a “gateway” step toward youth initiation and use of not only vaping devices but also combustible cigarettes. Part of the argument that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has put forth is that flavors contribute to the youth appeal of e-cigarettes and can potentially initiate nicotine addiction.
Attendees discussed how far regulation should go to limit consumer choice in terms of flavor, nicotine strength and product formats, Herzog said. Many in the industry argue that blocking consumer demand often leads to illegal trafficking and criminal activity.
The role of regulation in shaping competition and its effect on innovation was the fourth topic discussed, Herzog said. The FDA has developed a product approval process for tobacco that many in the industry have called onerous and expensive, as well as entertained ideas of limiting the sale of these products to specific channels of trade.
Now in its third year, the summit is linked to the London-based Royal Society, an organization that brings together scientists and other stakeholder communities to discuss emerging trends and technologies and how they affect the public health.