Increasing global recognition for tobacco harm reduction

Dr KK Aggarwal

The following quotes demonstrate an increasing global recognition for tobacco harm reduction.

“We (in 2007) suggested that making effective, affordable, socially acceptable, low-hazard nicotine products available to smokers as a market alternative to tobacco could generate significant health gains, by allowing smokers to stop smoking tobacco, without having to stop using the nicotine to which they are addicted. As most of the harm caused by smoking arises not from nicotine but from other components of tobacco smoke, the health and life expectancy of today’s smokers could be radically improved by encouraging as many as possible to switch to a smoke-free source of nicotine.” Royal College of Physicians, Nicotine without smoke, 2016.

“We will help people quit smoking by permitting innovative technologies that minimise the risk of harm. We will maximise the availability of safer alternatives to smoking.” UK Department of Health, Towards a smoke-free generation, 2017.

“The BMA’s ambition to achieve a tobacco-free society, leading to substantially reduced mortality from tobacco-related disease. Given that e-cigarettes are now the most popular device used in attempts to quit smoking, and that many people have used them to successfully quit tobacco use, they have significant potential to support this ambition, and help reduce tobacco-related harm.” British Medical Association, E-cigarettes: balancing risks and opportunities, 2017

“These individuals (who cannot quit smoking) should be encouraged to switch to the least harmful form of tobacco product possible; switching to the exclusive use of e-cigarettes is preferable to continuing to smoke combustible products.” American Cancer Institute, Position statement on e-cigarettes, 2018

“If long term smokers who have been unable to quit smoking tobacco cigarettes switch to e-cigarettes, thousands of lives could be saved.” Trent Zimmerman MP, Chair of the Australian parliamentary committee report into the use and marketing of electronic cigarettes and personal vaporisers in Australia, 2018.

“If the great majority of tobacco smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit would switch without delay to using an alternative source of nicotine with lower health risks, and eventually stop using it, this would represent a significant contemporary public health achievement.” WHO, Electronic nicotine delivery systems and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems, 2016.

“Tobacco control’ means a range of supply, demand and harm reduction strategies that aim to improve the health of a population by eliminating of reducing their consumption of tobacco products and exposures to tobacco smoke.” WHO, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, 2003

(Source: No Fire, No Smoke Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction, 2018 (2018). London: Knowledge-Action-Change)


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