Saving lives through innovation

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Through advances in science, technology, and regulation, many innovative technologies have been introduced over the years that have changed our lives dramatically. Although, through years of constant development, technological advancements and increased awareness, people have come to appreciate the way innovation has amplified ease and growth in our lives but society in general is reluctant to change and adapt to new ways.

Among the countless innovative technologies that are struggling to get accepted, especially in our country, one that stands out in current times is the technological advancements for reducing risks to people who choose to continue to smoke. Scientific research and technology have brought about the advent of better alternatives to continued smoking for example e-cigarettes, vapes, heated tobacco products (HTPs), nicotine pouches, etc, which are scientifically designed to reduce tobacco-related harm. These scientifically substantiated smoke-free alternatives do not burn tobacco. As a result, they emit fewer and lower levels of harmful and potentially harmful constituents compared to the smoke produced when tobacco is burned in cigarettes. While not risk-free, they are a much better choice than cigarettes for adults who would otherwise continue to smoke.

Various health and regulatory bodies around the globe have cited scientific evidence of the harm reduction potential of these alternatives which is why many smokers are switching over to these products as opposed to continuing to smoke. Public Health England for one, has cited that smoke-free products are 95% less harmful than cigarettes.

Several countries have completely reformed and redesigned their tobacco control policies and have introduced favourable regulatory changes that allow easy access for smokers who want to stop smoking cigarettes and encourage those who do not quit to shift towards less harmful methods. New Zealand, the UK, Japan, Philippines, the USA, and several other countries are working towards going smoke-free. New Zealand has introduced comprehensive policy changes with the goal of completely phasing out cigarettes by 2030.  Japan’s smoke-free policies are also a leading example of the pragmatic approach governments need to adopt in terms of regulatory and accessibility aspects of less harmful alternatives. Regulatory changes are of major importance because for smokers to switch to smoke-free products, these alternatives must be accessible. Increasing accessibility means improving consumer awareness, as well as the acceptability, availability, and affordability of smoke-free products for better public health.

This shift, though, is not easy for everyone. Several governments, regulatory authorities as well as public health and scientific communities, are yet to recognise the potential of these innovative alternative products. To provide adult smokers meaningful access to smoke-free products, awareness needs to be raised about their benefits along with making them sufficiently acceptable, available, and affordable so that smokers can switch to them.