Tested and proven scientific data which have indicated the possibility of a decline in the risk of having cardiovascular diseases when people quit smoking or in the minimum, switch to the use of alternative products, is at the heart of the harm reduction campaign.
The world currently has no fewer than 1.1 billion smokers, most of which are at the risk of contracting cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer and other smoking related diseases, fueling the call for aggressive efforts towards tobacco harm reduction.
Speaking at the Open Science event, panelists said data from researches so far conducted suggest that using alternative products to cigarettes like vapping, oral smokeless, can significantly reduce the risk of tobacco-related diseases.
“The acceptability of the product is very important”, Dr Gizelle Baker, an epidemiologist and an expert in tobacco harm reduction, has said while noting that people who quit smoking completely have reduced risk of contracting cardiovascular diseases.
“To achieve harm reduction, we need products that will reduce the risk to individuals that use these products. The next is to make people switch to these products and continue to use them. There is a reduction in risk of having cardiovascular disease when one quits smoking. There is also a reduction when people quit and switch to alternative products,” they said.
For his part, Peter Harper, a physician and medical oncologist who said studies about the global trend in prevalence of smoking show that there is a decrease, said the newer products, if used, can significantly reduce harm.
“Advertising, high taxes have not been able to discourage people from smoking. Currently, the world has 1.1bn smokers, all of whom are at the risk of lung cancer and other diseases. Therefore, the ideal thing is for smokers to quit.
“If they cannot quit, they should use alternative products. However, the world has to use all the tricks it can to get people to quit smoking,” Harper added.
The way to maximise harm reduction potential is to eliminate tobacco completely but using alternatives like the heated tobacco products or e-cigarettes where cessation is not possible, can help to reduce harm.
The panelist, however, admitted that more than anything, people need to do very big behavioral changes and insisted that even though quitting remains the best option, where that is not possible, smokers should switch to alternative products to help reduce harm.