One of America's largest financial services providers has announced it will be reclassifying e-cigarette users as smokers for the purposes of calculating insurance premiums.
Prudential Financial, which features in our guide to the best life insurance providers, announced that it will be making the switch over the coming weeks in a statement emailed to the press.
“Increased attention on vaping over the past few months and linkages to a few deaths and multiple illnesses, have resulted in warnings from the FDA, federal government and some states banning the use of flavored e-cigarettes," it said, as reported by Bloomberg.
The company added: "In the coming weeks, and consistent with industry shifts, Prudential will reclassify users of e-cigarettes to treat them as smokers and in line with our cigarette smoking guidelines."
Previously, e-cigarette users were not classified as smokers by Prudential, but the rethink will mean its life insurance policies cost more for nearly all e-cigarette and vape users going forward.
- Read our Prudential life insurance review
Clouds of danger
The move is the latest twist in the ongoing health scare surrounding e-cigarette usage.
Reports of vaping-related lung illness have exploded in recent weeks, with over 1,000 cases logged across 48 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to October 1 figures from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Most patients report a history of using THC-containing products, and the overwhelming proportion are male (70%) and under the age of 35 (80%).
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The CDC has also linked 18 deaths to electronic forms of smoking, with a number of leading retailers – including Walmart, Walgreens and Kroger – halting sales of e-cigarettes and related products as a result.
Representatives for several other life insurance providers, including New York Life Insurance Co., Brighthouse Financial Inc. and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co, had declined comment to Bloomberg at the time of publication.
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