Swiss Re Sees E-Cigarettes Triggering Tobacco Liability Claims

By Carolyn Bandel | July 10, 2014

Electronic cigarettes could trigger liability claims similar to tobacco litigation lawsuits in the past if they prove to be more damaging to health than now understood, according to a report by Swiss Re Ltd.

Another risk is that e-cigarettes may cause death among smokers, the world’s second-biggest reinsurer said in the report on its website today. The report examines 26 “new emerging risk themes” to raise awareness.

e-cigarette isolatedGovernments are wrestling with how to regulate the $3 billion market for e-cigarettes and starting in mid-2016, advertising for them will be banned across the European Union. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed in April to extend its oversight of the tobacco industry to include e- cigarettes, and the rules, if made final, will prohibit sales to minors, ban free samples and require nicotine-addiction warnings.

“E-cigarettes are often marketed as a less harmful alternative to tobacco,” according to the report, adding concerns focus on their main ingredients e-liquids, which are powerful neurotoxins. “Their long-term health effects are not yet known since they have not been on the market long enough.”

Other risks include cloud-computing security, a contagious emerging-market crisis, deflation and increasing deaths because of air pollution, the Zurich-based reinsurer said in the report.

(With assistance from Naomi Kresge in Berlin.)

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