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Is 'Vaping' Still Smoking? Most Insurance Underwriters Say Yes

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E-Cigarettes have become incredible popular in the last 12 months. Seen by many as a 'miracle cure', they've been wholeheartedly embraced by legions of “ex-smokers” all trying to give up the habit for good. But is the act of “smoking” an e-cigarette (or 'vaping', as it's commonly known), really giving up smoking? According to a recent survey conducted by the Munich American Reassurance Company, the answer is no.

The Figures

The survey, carried out at the Association of Home Office Underwriters' (AHOU) 13th Annual Conference in March, found that, of the 150 underwriters interviewed, 74 per cent categorize e-cigarettes as a tobacco product, despite the fact that there in no tobacco present in them. 30 per cent classified e-cigarettes as a quit-smoking aid, 20 per cent see it as a drug delivery service and a further 19 per cent consider it to be a gateway drug. In addition to this, a massive 82 per cent of insurance companies with an underwriting policy in place for e-cigarettes today, still view them as tobacco products. Likewise, 76 per cent of underwriters who work for a company without a defined ruling on e-cigarettes, strongly feel that they should be considered so.

Opinion Divided on E-Cigs

The recent prevalence of e-cigarettes has sparked major controversy within all areas of the public sector. The fact that 'vaping' looks like smoking (and given that there's been a lack of comprehensive research into its effects) means that policies regarding e-cigarettes vary considerably from one place to the next. In some public institutions, they're banned, in others they are perfectly acceptable. These inconsistencies were certainly mirrored in the way that insurance underwriters responded to the classification of e-cigarettes in the report given by the Munich American Reassurance Company; “As the e-cigarette industry continues to grow, it poses a number of major questions for the insurance industry, many of which do not have black and white answers”.

Outlook For the Future

It seems – for now at least – without the proper in-depth medical research to confirm or disconfirm the true long-term effects of e-cigarettes, there can be no comprehensive way to account for them as far as the policies of insurance underwriting firms are concerned. One would expect that, until further fully-validated medical research is available, most major recognised insurance firms (such as Catlin UK, amongst others) will be inclined to consider these as tobacco products.