E-cigarette innovation is stalling, a leading doctor has warned

 
Courtney Goldsmith
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Electronic cigarette smoke
A "bridging approach" is needed between different variants of e-cigarettes and next generation products, says Dr. James Murphy. (Source: Getty)

Innovation in electronic cigarettes will stall unless a bridging approach to new product regulations is made.

New variants of e-cigarettes and next generation products risk being tied up in development, said James Murphy, head of reduced risk substantiation at British American Tobacco.

Murphy gave a keynote speech today at the Next Generation Nicotine Delivery conference in London.

"The many innovations and technological breakthroughs that allow for this rate of development are so rapid that it is impractical to create complete new data sets every time a product is tweaked. This would drastically impact the innovation process, the availability of new and improved products and their value as a public health tool," he said.

A smaller number of more focused tests, which have been developed to assess product variants, should follow the creation of the initial science package, he said.

Tests to create the foundational data sets could focus on measuring toxicants in the vapour, recording the impact of vapour on lung cells compared to cigarette smoke and ensuring the product remains stable over time and that consumers aren't likely to use more of the newer product.

"Manufacturers should be able to provide useful data to support their products," Murphy said.

He added that "this could have multiple benefits in minimising the use of human subjects; developing efficient, intelligent testing strategies; reducing the burden on the regulator and enabling a more efficient route for the assessment of these products to realise their potential of reducing risk".

Public Health England, an executive body of the UK Department of Health, has published a report saying experts estimate it is around 95 per cent safer to smoke e-cigarettes than traditional cigarettes, but more research is needed.

The Royal College of Physicians said e-cigarettes should be used widely and promoted as an alternative to conventional cigarettes.

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