Case Detail

Case Summary

Electronic Cigarettes in the EU: The Political Economy of Product Regulation

Case Number: 5-215-255, Year Published: 2015

HBS Number: KEL927

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Key Concepts

Government Policy, Health Care, Politics, Public Policy, Regulation


You are the CEO of an e-cigarette company that has just been acquired by a major tobacco company. Your company operates in the European market. The July 2013 draft of the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) recently has been crafted by the European Commission, but it has not yet been examined by the EU Parliament and its Council. The draft proposes that all e-cigarette products be classified as medical devices, regardless of nicotine content. This is the strictest available mode of regulation. If the directive goes into effect as written, e-cigarettes would have to undergo costly and lengthy clinical trials to receive approval and face much stricter marketability restrictions.

The case details the state of the e-cigarette industry in 2013, including consumer data, distribution, competition from similar products, and public health concerns. Students will analyze the current regulatory environment, determine what outcome would be most favorable to the e-cigarette industry, and identify the ways to achieve that goal.

Learning Objectives

After reading and analyzing the case, students will be able to: identify regulatory threats and evaluate what realistic alternatives are available; identify what institutions would be suitable targets for a non-market strategy; and articulate future regulatory threats to the e-cigarette industry.

Number of Pages: 10

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Strategy

Teaching Note Available: Yes

Geographic: Europe

Industry: Tobacco

Year of Case: 2013