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This is how you work to reduce the harm of smoking

Date: March 30, 2023 Time: 11:18:10

Today there are 1,300 million smokers in the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), a figure that has only been reduced by 20 million since 2015. In this regard, the numbers advanced by the international organization suggest that , despite various regulations, prohibitions and limitations, the number will not drop below 1 billion in 2025.

“The cigarette is bad. The best thing a person can do is never start smoking, and the best thing a smoker can do is quit completely,” says Andrea Costantini, a physician and expert in the area of ​​Medical Relations at Philip Morris in Canada and Latin America. “However, there are many people who, despite knowing that cigarettes are bad for your health, continue to smoke.”

The professional is clear: in the future, a sixth of the population will continue to be a smoker, something that seems inevitable despite the measures taken by governments and public health organizations. “Although we must prevent and report the harm of cigarettes, and work with smokers so that they quit, we cannot turn our backs on those who will continue to smoke,” Costantini points out.

Smokeless Alternatives to Reduce Harm

With this fact on the table, Philip Morris International took, almost two decades ago, listened to what society demanded and redefined its role in the industry towards a smoke-free future. Said future went through the development of alternatives that science endorses as better options than continuing to consume cigarettes.

To understand the context, a letter sent to the WHO by 53 public health organizations in 2014, when tobacco heating devices began to emerge: “The potential of products that reduce the harm of tobacco is very broad. in order to reduce the impact of smoking-related illnesses, and these products may be among the most significant health innovations of the 21st century, with the potential to save hundreds of millions of lives,” says the letter, signed by organizations health publications, regulators and health professionals.

Tobacco companies are developing alternatives to cigarettes.PMI

a way to go

Of course, this harm reduction must be, points out from Philip Morris International, strictly connected to scientific evidence. “Inspiration comes from pharmaceutical practices; To provide evidence, a scientific team is needed that follows the FDA guidelines and works with different standards,” says Gizelle Baker, Vice President of Global Medical Relations at PMI. It is she who puts that scientific knowledge on the table.

It begins by noting that high levels of harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke are the leading cause of smoking-related illnesses. So the path forward from Philip Morris International is clear: it is necessary to develop devices that replicate the experience of a smoker, but reduce the risks associated with that behavior; In other words, it was time to eliminate smoke by offering an alternative with reduced risk potential.

“It is mainly the toxic substances and carcinogens in tobacco smoke, not nicotine, that cause disease,” states a statement from NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence).

The figures that already exist

It is a fact: at present, there is still insufficient evidence to provide mortality and morbidity data for the use of tobacco heating devices and other smokeless alternatives compared to cigarettes, since such alternatives have only been on the market for a short time. “It’s going to take time to get morbidity data,” Baker admits. “Therefore, we need more studies, more data, to demonstrate the benefit in the general population.”

However, there is scientific evidence that indicates that the average level of chemicals is significantly reduced with the use of tobacco heating devices compared to cigarette smoke, precisely because they do not burn the tobacco, but rather that only heat it to a regulated temperature below 600ºC.

“The average level of chemicals is significantly reduced with the use of tobacco heating devices compared to cigarette smoke”

From Philip Morris International they continue to insist: non-combustion alternatives are not without risk and with the use of a large part of these nicotine*** is inhaled, which is addictive. The only way to eliminate the risk is to stop using tobacco and nicotine completely, or never start at all.

In some countries the smoking rate has been reduced with alternatives to cigarettes.PMI

However, in some countries such as the United Kingdom, the presence of these smokeless alternatives represents an advance in terms of public health as the smoking rate has decreased: electronic cigarettes arrived in the country about ten years ago and, while in In 2011 the prevalence of smoking was 19.8%, in 2019 it had dropped to 13.9%, according to data from the British National Statistics Office.

Another very illustrative case of what could be achieved if we took a holistic view of the problem is Japan, where there are high acceptance rates for smoke-free products (particularly tobacco heating devices), and there has been a decline in cigarette consumption in recent years. According to the National Health and Nutrition Survey of this country, in 2019, it was reduced by 13.1% and, in the last five years, the prevalence of smokers has been reduced considerably.

In short, there is the possibility of helping to combat the impact of smoking on public health if we manage to complement existing prevention and cessation strategies with a harm reduction approach that encourages adult smokers who would otherwise continue to switch to better alternatives, reversing it in a positive impact on public health. Therefore, it is essential to provide adult smokers with truthful information based on scientific evidence that allows them to make informed decisions.

***Nicotine is an addictive substance naturally present in the tobacco leaf. Although it is not the main cause of smoking-related diseases, it is not innocuous and is contraindicated for certain profiles (minors, pregnant women, lactating women, diabetics, people with hypertension or heart failure).

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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