Recent Release | 27 Nov 2023

The Economics of Reduced-Risk Products: Global policy landscape and principles for policy treatment

Economic Consulting Team

Oxford Economics

Heated Tobacco Products (HTPs) and vapour products (e.g., e-cigarettes) are new categories of Reduced-Risk Products (RRPs) in the tobacco market that have gained in popularity in recent years, with global sales of approximately US $20 billion each in 2020. In response, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) has generally advocated a precautionary stance. For HTPs that can mean imposing equivalent fiscal and non-fiscal rules that are applied to combustible tobacco products. For e-cigarettes, it can mean strict controls on usage, with a focus on protecting vulnerable groups.

However, pursuing a harsh stance towards RRPs could potentially limit policymakers’ options for mitigating health risks, and puts at risk the positive economic footprint supported by the RRP industry, in terms of the GDP, jobs, wages, and large R&D investments it supports.

Against this backdrop, we propose three key principles that regulating authorities should adhere to for optimal outcomes in their approach to RRPs: tailor restrictions on RRP usage to different groups; differentiate the treatment of RRPs from combustible tobacco products; and incentivise innovation in industry to achieve better health outcomes at the population level.

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