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.
Governments 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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