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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On 21 September the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World launched the first Tobacco Transformation Index. Whilst not perfect, with some things needing to be addressed, it represents an important milestone on the road to reducing the harm from tobacco.

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