THE IMPORTANCE OF TOBACCO HARM REDUCTION IN TOBACCO CONTROL

The latest research results regarding tobacco control show that rates of tobacco use are falling slowly. Unfortunately, data from various studies do not reflect a very positive shift as the overall number of tobacco users worldwide has hardly witnessed any change. Only a third of the world’s countries (30%) are on track to achieve the WHO adult tobacco use target of a 30% reduction in prevalence by 2030, and the course to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 3.4 for non-communicable diseases is not followed by most countries.

According to “The Lancet”, the peer-reviewed medical journal, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is no longer fit for purpose, especially for low-income countries. Neither WHO nor the FCTC are grounded in the latest evidence on the role of innovative nicotine delivery devices in assisting the transition from cigarettes to much less harmful products.

The missing strategy in WHO and FCTC policies is harm reduction, which regrettably was rejected by WHO and the FCTC Conference of Parties. Most people smoke because they are dependent on nicotine. Tobacco harm reduction reduces the harm caused by burnt tobacco by replacing cigarettes with much less harmful ways of delivering nicotine.

This a matter that should be given more consideration without fearing the great potential that the scientifically substantiated, reduced-risk alternatives might have on disrupting the cigarette industry. There is no doubt that harm reduction should be adopted as a crucial strategy for reducing the health burden caused by tobacco.

Although the alternative methods to administer nicotine are not risk-free, they are still a far better choice than cigarette smoking. They offer the expected “pleasurable” aspects of smoking cigarettes without the harm of tobacco combustion.

Lots of tobacco users are unwilling or unable to quit smoking. To control tobacco use and protect people from smoking and its dangers, providing less harmful nicotine-containing alternatives should be considered as a step in the journey of a thousand miles towards quitting.

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