As tobacco use is one of the major risk factors for non-communicable diseases and related deaths worldwide, global public health is constantly threatened by the growing number of cigarette smokers who continue to put their health at risk despite the widespread awareness of the harms associated with it.
Although authorities and relevant health agencies have lobbied for different tobacco control measures, the fact that there are currently 1.1 billion smokers in the world and this figure is expected to remain the same in the coming years testifies to progress, or lack thereof, on the ground. This lack of real improvement seems to stem from the lack of pragmatic and scientific thinking in the approach to achieving the ultimate goal of tobacco. While tobacco control advocates have tried different methods to quit smoking, a growing body of scientific research and evidence has shown that where immediate and absolute cessation is not viable, switching to smokeless nicotine products such as e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products, and snus can help adult smokers, who would otherwise continue to smoke, reduce their health risks.
These alternatives have been shown to be less harmful than cigarettes because they do not involve the burning of tobacco and do not produce smoke which contains the majority of toxins that cause smoking-related illnesses. Instead, these products only deliver nicotine which, while not without risk, does not cause smoking-associated diseases. In the words of Professor Michael Russell, a pioneer in the study of tobacco addiction, “People smoke for the nicotine but die for the tar.” According to Britain’s National Health Service, “clean forms of nicotine are permitted to help smokers quit.
These are much safer than smoking as they contain only nicotine, contain no other additives or toxic chemicals and have been shown to be safe and effective. These smokeless alternatives to cigarettes therefore deliver nicotine with minimal risk, eliminating the smoke and other harmful toxins found in cigarette smoke. This approach is based on Tobacco Harm Reduction, a public health strategy that aims to provide nicotine through less harmful alternatives to reduce the harm caused by smoking to people who are unable or unwilling to quit immediately. completely smoke.
Of course, the best option for smokers to quit smoking completely, but the key to helping the millions of current smokers quit is giving them the choice to switch to a less harmful alternative and a step-by-step guide to eliminating the tobacco consumption. totally. The logical first step, therefore, is to help adult smokers, who would otherwise continue to smoke, to switch to smokeless alternatives that do not produce the toxins found in cigarettes and only provide them with the nicotine dose, allowing them at least to move to the less harmful end of the spectrum instead of leaving them no choice but to continue smoking cigarettes. Countries like the UK, Canada, Japan, and the Philippines are already working to incorporate science-based, less harmful alternatives to achieve their tobacco control goals. Many countries have also made progress in reducing their number of smokers and in reducing the public health burden caused by cigarette smoking. It is time for our policymakers and regulators to also pay attention to the new evidence and realign their goals and approach accordingly.