Tobacco Harm Reduction; a potential strategy against the perils of smoking

With the increasing number of smokers, the world is trying to shift to better alternatives with less human life risk.

By Sayyed Shehzer Abbas

The world is experiencing an increase in the number of smokers around the world. To tackle such situation, tobacco organizations are introducing innovative, research-based products as an alternative. One of the solutions to reduce the risk of lives and increasing number of smokers are heated tobacco products.

Tobacco harm reduction is a public health strategy that aims to save life of thousands by lowering the health risk of individuals and societies utilizing tobacco in an excessive amount.

Tobacco is usually burnt in smoking products. The devices especially made for tobacco harm reduction heat the tobacco as opposed to burning which science shows is the principle offender of most smoking-related diseases. They, in this way, produce far lower amounts of harmful mixtures. These compounds are approximately 95% less harmful as indicated by Public Health England (PHE) as compared to the tobacco found in smoke.

With the expanding awareness on the injurious impacts of cigarettes on health and their effect on the climate, there has been a solid flood in the interest for less harmful options. In any case, because of the absence of an administrative strategy set up, numerous tobacco stores in Pakistan are straightforwardly offering to clients, while a larger part of such products are likewise being sold online that are essentially smuggled or non-custom paid.

In a recent interview, Muhammad Zeeshan, Chief Finance Officer, Phillip Morris Pakistan Limited said, “In addition to curbing the illicit trade of cigarettes and non-combusted alternatives, regulating reduced risk products and having them as part of the tobacco control and public health policies will also help in providing adult smokers the right information and options as opposed to continued smoking”.

With such products openly advertised for their positive aspects there are also a few negative aspects in marketing smoking products. Advertisements can result to  increased initiations by non-smokers. Consumers would confuse it with product having no side effects. Less harmful never means it wont have any effect on the human body. Moreover, it would halt quitting as it would be providing them a better option than smoking conventional cigarettes. It could even increase smokers resulting in relapse by former smokers. 

U.S FDA Center for Tobacco Products marketed such less harmful products claiming that these alternatives can help addicted adult smokers. It can help them in throwing away combusted cigarettes and reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals. But such preventions can only be done if the smoker completely shifts from conventional smoking to devices that heat tobacco instead of burning it.

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