British American Tobacco (BAT) issued a statement on 20 September highlighting the need for effective regulation of vapour products, offering adult consumers a range of potentially reduced-risk products (PRRPs).
BAT’s Group Head of Potentially Reduced Risk Product Science, Chris Proctor, told Daily News Egypt that PRRPs do not burn anything and some do not even contain tobacco. Instead, they release the nicotine in other ways, making them a less harmful alternative, as it is widely recognised that most of the dangers associated with smoking are the toxic chemicals produced when the tobacco is burned.
For Egypt, the specification for E liquid was published in the Official Gazette in March 2019. The specifications published by the Egyptian Organisations for Standards & Quality (EOS) under the ministry of trade and industry, is in line with the global standards for E liquid. This means that the import and production of ‘electronic liquid’ is allowed, provided that it meets Egyptian standards and specifications issued in this regard.
Accordingly, the continuation of the 2015 ban is not feasible, given the existence of a standard that regulates import, production, and the presence of the e-cigarette liquid and product accessories in the Egyptian market–conditional to them meeting the standards and stipulated specifications.
Multinational companies operating in Egypt are hopeful to introduce e-cigarettes, but are awaiting the decision of the ministry of health to lift the ban on importing them, and to establish a legislative framework for selling them in Egypt, counteracting the practice of trading in smuggled goods in the Egyptian black market.
“We are fully supportive of the efforts of various government agencies around the world who are working to understand the exact cause of the recent tragic consumer cases. To the best of our knowledge, no product developed or manufactured by BAT has been involved in these cases,” said Director of Scientific Research at BAT, David O’Reilly.
BAT is a multinational cigarette and tobacco manufacturing company headquartered in London, the United Kingdom, and is considered the world’s most international tobacco group and the second-largest cigarette producer in the world as of 2012.
DNE interviewed Proctor to learn more about their smoke-free products, and BAT’s future plans in this regard, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
How was the situation before the PRRPs?
Using nicotine replacement therapy was the only option for adult smokers who were thinking of giving up cigarettes. Even with the arrival of nicotine chewing gum and patches, the choices were minimal and often resulted in varying success.
Do PRRPs make any difference today?
Yes, today the picture is very different. A new generation of products, PRRPs, such as vapor, tobacco heating, and oral tobacco, and nicotine products have emerged to pave the way for potentially less harmful alternatives to smoking, while fuelling greater consumer choice.
How are PRRPs less dangerous than smoking?
Globally, the appetite for these new types of tobacco and nicotine products is really heating up and importantly, they are backed by a growing body of scientific evidence that shows their harm reduction potential compared to traditional cigarettes.
Does technology have a hand to help smokers to give it up?
Advances in technology continue to be a major driving force in this space and indeed across all areas of modern life. We’re now living in a digitally-driven, tech-loving world, which has fired up a new willingness amongst adult smokers to embrace new experiences that may help them move away from smoking.
Why do you think that harm reduction is a good solution?
While the only way to fully eliminate all the health risks associated with tobacco and nicotine products is not to use them at all, there will always be those who choose to smoke if there are no viable alternatives available to them. The theory behind harm reduction is that it recognises some people will continue to do something that is potentially bad for them or dangerous, despite knowing the risks. Instead of being black and white about it, harm reduction takes the view that if they’re going to do it anyway, then how can we help minimise the risk? It’s an approach already used successfully within a number of contexts.
Do researches and studies prove that PRRPs help people quit smoking?
Yes, studies show that PRRPs can help people move away from smoking. A recent study led by Queen Mary University of London Professor Peter Hajek found that vapor products are almost twice as effective for those quitting smoking as nicotine-replacement therapy. A lot more research needs to be done in this area, and at BAT we continue to invest heavily in our own scientific studies.
Does the public value the role of PRRPs in harm reduction?
Many public health bodies across the world already value the role that PRRPs could play in harm reduction, compared to traditional smoking. For example, Public Health England has said that based on available estimates, vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking cigarettes. Canada has recently legalised vapor products, recognising the role they can play in tobacco harm reduction and the use of ‘snus’ (smokeless oral tobacco) in Sweden is credited as helping to reduce smoking-related diseases.
What is the motive behind working on the PRRPs?
We believe that to do nothing and not to offer these products would be a mistake and to ignore the huge potential they present for reducing the risks of smoking. From these foundations, we plan to continue working hard on accelerating our long-held ambition of transforming tobacco and providing a range of PRRPs that deliver a better tomorrow for our consumers.