The overlooked potential of smokefree products for effective tobacco control

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Smoking remains one of the major risk factors for most non-communicable diseases all over the world.Every year, numerous people try to quit smoking. Some of them succeed but most of them relapse and a large number of smokers do not even try to quit at all. Given the nature of this habit, the situation is understandable but what is not understandable is the unwillingness of some health authorities, experts, and governments to take a more innovative, science-backed approach to protecting the health of the smokers.

There are a number of scientifically substantiated products and technologies that are recognised as reduced-risk and are designed to curb harm caused by cigarettes. Heated tobacco products (HTPs), e-cigarettes, vapes, nicotine pouches, snus are some of the products in the reduced-risk category and carry the potential to minimise risk for smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke.

Scientific researches show that it is the smoke in cigarettes, produced by the burning of tobacco, which causes majority of smoking-related diseases as they carry around 6000 toxins – 100 of which are already proven to cause heart diseases and lung cancer. There are now smoke free products in the market which have been designed as such that they eliminate the burning of tobacco and consequently, the generation of smoke which greatly lessens the harm associated with cigarettes.

Many evidence-based studies are available today thatsuggest using smokefree alternatives can help adult smokers, whowould otherwise continue to smoke, to reduce harm to their health. Yet, some health and regulatory bodies refuse to acknowledge the benefits of these products.

An esteemed health and research authority, Public Health England has deemed vaping, or the use of e-cigarettes, as 95-percent less harmful than smoking cigarettes.Another research conducted by Public Health England concludes that alternative nicotine delivery devices, such as nicotine vaping products, could play a crucial role in reducing the enormous health burden caused by cigarette smoking.The US FDA has also regulated the use of these alternatives, reporting that the benefits of these products in helping adult smokers eliminate their use of cigarettes and reduce harm to their health outweighs the risk they may pose.

Fortunately, there are some countries that have made smoke-free products a part of their public health and tobacco control policies. Japan, UK and the USA are leading the change by introducing consumer-centric and inclusive policy changes associated with reducing tobacco harm through alternative products. Philippines, Greece, and Thailand are also working towards incorporatingthese alternatives into their tobacco control strategies. Other countries with high smoking prevalence ratescan also greatly benefit by including smokefree productsas a major policy change and a measure to improve smokers’ health.

 

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