Emanating from the innovation of tobacco regulators, legislation in the drinks and tobacco industries promises to spread, increasingly shaping the nature and characteristics of the products we can consume and when, how and where they can be marketed and sold to us.
The drinks and tobacco cluster, by and large, are developed industries with modest growth trajectories struggling with disruption from consumer disaffection, trends towards moderation and upstart propositions. The one exception, legal cannabis, is a disruptor in its own right, with elevated growth prospects.
Consumption in these industries is, arguably, especially vulnerable to regulatory scrutiny because it is both perceived as non-essential, at best health-neutral, but also often forms a central part of people’s routines and lifestyles, making it a legitimate and fruitful focus of legislative effort.
Regulatory innovation in tobacco has created a range of legislative tools but across the cluster taxation (in the form of sugar levies, alcohol and cannabis excise) and promotion restrictions (in the form of warning labels, advertising bans and packaging restrictions) predominate.
Each industry is wrestling with its own calculation of the balance between availability to adult consumers (sometimes to whom the products may be very beneficial eg adult smokers and e-cigarettes) and ensuring children are not being exposed to and encouraged to use those same brands.
The communal action witnessed across markets to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, as well as understanding of certain risk factors (eg obesity) will prompt regulators to tighten restrictions in many areas, though equally some regulatory relaxations through the crisis may become permanent.
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