Reynolds American Inc. (RAI:US) and Lorillard Inc. (LO:US) urged U.S. health officials to move more quickly on regulating e-cigarettes, saying the lack of clear rules makes it harder for smokers to switch to the less-hazardous products.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration needs to establish guidelines for the industry and create a level playing field for e-cig competitors, Reynolds Chief Executive Officer Susan Cameron said yesterday at the Global Tobacco Networking Forum. Lorillard CEO Murray Kessler, speaking at the same conference, echoed those remarks. If the agency fails to act in time, it could jeopardize the huge potential health benefits from converting smokers to the newer technology, he said.
The two companies, which agreed this year to merge in a $25 billion deal, are fighting to protect the nascent e-cig industry. The new products are touted as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes because they emit vapor rather than tar, ash and smoke. Still, they’ve come under increasing scrutiny from both local and federal officials, who say the health effects of the vapor aren’t fully known.