Prevention and discouragement of underage vaping. This was the main message relayed by Jonathan Ng, Global Head of External Affairs of RELX International, during his participation at the recently held Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) Europe conference, where he also took the opportunity to expound on a company-wide initiative dubbed the “RELX Guardian Program: Commitment to Youth Prevention.”
Through this ambitious undertaking, RELX International underscores its commitment in tackling head on two pressing issues concerning vaping: that of preventing underage access and deterring minors from purchasing vaping products, a responsibility that Ng says the company takes very seriously.
“Now more than ever, the industry has a role to play in raising awareness of why and how electronic cigarettes can be better alternatives to combustible tobacco,” Ng said. “One concrete way is by sparking in-depth conversations with policymakers and regulators on how to make use of science and technology for the betterment of both products and industry.”
Ng made especially clear that since its inception, RELX International has been aggressive in its mission to only market its products to adult smokers who are looking for an alternative to traditional cigarettes. Through its industry-leading Guardian Program, they work hard to ensure that these core brand values are reflected in everything from product development to sales, coupled with a concerted effort with retailers to step up on-site identification.
Furthermore, Ng also highlighted RELX International’s adherence to a strict set of Marketing Guidelines across the entirety of its communications, guaranteeing that no imagery or language would appeal to the younger audience. The company also strictly enforces a health warning on marketing materials alongside the deployment of available technologies—including advanced age-gating and verification systems—in order to effectively navigate the complex online space that’s dominated by social media platforms.
Jonathan Ng, Global Head of External Affairs of RELX International and Mr John Dunne, Director General of the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) in discussion during the Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) Europe conference held via Zoom.
These proactive measures are but some of the responses of RELX International to growing concerns like how flavor names might attract the youth, going as far as deliberately choosing flavor names that do not appeal to unintended audiences such as minors. Additionally, RELX International also works closely with its trade partners, requiring them to adhere to the stringent Guidelines in their operations as well.
Moving on to shifting industry trends, Ng touched on how, due to the growing number of options available to them, “adult smokers and vapers are becoming more discerning” and that “their taste preferences as well as their demand for quality has increased.”
Thus, Ng believes that only the companies that have a robust R&D pipeline that is able to cater to the preferences of smokers in order to help them switch—a reflection of significant investments in product quality and reliability—will thrive.
Drawing manufacturing companies, public health experts, regulatory and policy bodies, law firms and more, the ENDS Europe is Europe’s leading ENDS conference to look at scientific, commercial, and regulatory aspects, covering everything from the latest regulations (including TPD) and the latest research to testing methods, concerns and standards, product design, and potential harm reduction. Other invited speakers include representatives from Philip Morris International, Japan Tobacco International, Nicopure Labs, CORESTA, MHRA, UKVIA, Totally Wicked, INNCO, Imperial Brands, and IBVTA.
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