The health of over a billion people worldwide is compromised daily as they continue to light up cigarettes and inhale the toxic smoke released with every puff. While most of these people make a conscious effort of picking up their first cigarette, either due to peer pressure, modelling a parent’s or sibling’s behaviour, or relieve their stress, they eventually find themselves caught up in the habit beyond their control. Thus, despite 70 percent of smokers wanting to quit, very few actually succeed.
The reasonbehind this low success rate for most is quitting smoking cold turkey – the abrupt cessation of the habit – that may invoke some unpleasant experiences in the body causing the smoker to eventually go back to the habit, sometimes even causing them to smoke more than usual. While the end goal for ensuring the best of smokers’ health should still be to completely quit smoking, it is important to look at the situation realistically and understand the scientific phenomenon that makes it so much difficult for smokers to stamp out the habit regardless of the knowledge of how harmful cigarettes are for their and their loved ones’ health.
Researches show that while nicotine is the reason whysmokers keep coming back to their habit, the real problem does not lie there. While nicotine is not risk-free, the main culprit is the burning of tobacco which leads to production of smoke and related toxins.. When a cigarette is lit, the tobacco inside it is burned which releases smoke containing over 6000 toxic chemicals that cause most of the smoking-related diseases including heart and lung diseases.
According to a report by Royal College of Physicians (2007), “As most of the harm caused by smoking arisesnot from nicotine but from other components of tobacco smoke, the health andlifeexpectancy of today’s smokers could be radically improved by encouraging asmany as possible toswitch to a smoke-free source of nicotine.”
Thus, while recognizing the primacy of complete cessation of all tobacco and nicotine use as the ultimategoal to prevent harm from smoking, it makes sense to provide smokers a substitute for their nicotine fill so they can be helped in phasing out the harmful effects of cigarettes from their lives.Going by this science, technological innovation has given rise to a line of products that are non-combustibleand only deliver nicotine to its users, stopping them from going back to cigarettes. E-cigarettes, Heated Tobacco Products (HTPs), nicotine patches, snuffs are some examples that do not produce any kind of smoke and are proven to serve as a less harmful alternative to cigarettes for smokers.
The popularity of these smoke-free products has already been established in many parts of the world. Japan, once notorious for its alarmingly high number of smokers, has been witnessing a fall in its sale of cigarettes since the launch of HTPs in its market.
Statement issued by the UK Government, e-cigarettes could be prescribed for smokers who want to quit cigarettes by England’s National Health Service, under plans to cut smoking rates in the country. A report by Public Health England posits that e-cigarettes carry 95 percent less harm than cigarettes. Dr Kgosi Letlape, past President of the Health Professions Council of South Africa and South Africa’s Report Commissioner is also of the same view who, backing these scientific claims, said, “The science so far indicates that e-cigarettes and vaporizers are far less harmful than their combustible counterparts.” The design and feel of most of these smokeless products fulfil smokers’ sense of a ritualand habit formed with smoking cigarette, while substantially reducing the harm otherwise inflicted by cigarettes that burn and produce tar.
A Spanish oncology surgeon, Fernando Fernandez Bueno, along with a number of other medical experts, has also been advocating for smoke-free products to be included as part of tobacco control efforts worldwide, citing that it can help reduce smoking-related deaths in the long run. With many countries are already updating their tobacco control efforts with innovation and bringing down their number of smokers, the ball is now in our government’s court to decide whether or not they want to ensure a better health of our smokers.