UK to Launch Inquiry Into E-Cigarettes Amid Boom in Vaping – Bloomberg

The U.K. parliament opened a panel to establish the health and economic impact of electronic cigarettes and heat-not-burn devices as the number of people using such products approaches 3 million.

The inquiry will seek to address gaps in the understanding of e-cigarettes and assess the suitability of current regulations for the devices. The Science and Technology Committee will accept written submissions by Dec. 8.

“All disruptive technology challenges regulatory frameworks,” said Derek Yach, head of the nonprofit organization Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, which is part-funded by Philip Morris International Inc. “E-cigarettes require a rethink of regulatory philosophy.”

Tobacco companies, including the U.K.’s British American Tobacco Plc and Imperial Brands Plc, are pouring billions of dollars into researching and marketing cigarette alternatives as the popularity of smoking dwindles across the developed world. Many in the public-health community remain wary of Big Tobacco’s involvement in developing safer products.

While e-cigarette sales have grown rapidly as some of the U.K.’s 7.6 million smokers seek out healthier ways to get their nicotine hit, regulations are an obstacle to further growth. Some countries — including Australia, Brazil and Japan — have banned the sale of e-cigarettes altogether, while U.S. Food & Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has said e-cigarettes have an important role to play in the war on tobacco.

Wednesday, BAT forecast its sales of vapor products to more than double to at least 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) next year.

The U.K. inquiry will examine the effectiveness of regulation governing e-cigarette advertising and product safety, as well the potential impacts Brexit may have on regulation.

The U.K. health charity Action on Smoking and Health welcomed the review.

“While e-cigarettes are helping smokers quit, they are not a stand-alone solution to the tobacco epidemic,” said Deborah Arnott, chief executive officer of the group. “It’s

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