The WHO's demonising of lower-risk alternatives to cigarettes is giving governments seeking to protect their tax base both moral and legal justification for restricting reduced-harm products and is perpetuating 8+ million tobacco-related deaths a year.

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Declines in RLX and Smoore highlight the importance of rigorous regulatory risk assessment. Governments' desire to protect revenue and the abstinence-based approach of the WHO suggests growing regulatory pressure. Still, investors remain positive.

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RLX, now valued at $38bn, confirms investor appetite for THR and should entice entrepreneurs to raise capital to accelerate product development. High valuations and the rising threat of disruption likely also accelerate tobacco industry transformation.

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