Tobacco harm reduction advocates have warned that consumers stand to suffer from prohibitive policies imposed by authorities against smoke-free nicotine products such as electronic cigarettes, heat-not-burn tobacco products and snus, reports AP in The Manila Times. The warning came during the online version of the Global Forum on Nicotine.
Clarisse Virgino, a representative of the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates or CAPTHRA, said during the forum held on 11 and 12 June 2020: “It’s a sad thought that in this ruckus, consumers become the collateral damage.”
Consumers would suffer if prohibitive policies were be put in place, said Virgino at the event organised by London-based Knowledge Action Change Limited to discuss the merits of tobacco harm reduction products such as e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn (HnB) tobacco products and snus as safer alternatives to combustible cigarettes.
AP reported that more than 600 people participated in the 2020 forum to listen to presentations from 30 experts on the theme “Nicotine: Science, ethics and human rights”.Read the original AP article here
The forum discussed the latest evidence on the interplay between nicotine, smoking and COVID-19; the impact of the deliberate and continued misattribution of the so-called ‘Evali’ lung-injury crisis to nicotine vaping instead of illicit THC; moral panics over youth vaping rates taking precedence over the health of millions of adult smokers and vapers; and Big Philanthropy’s effect on global public health.
Speakers warned that the smoking epidemic could kill more than seven million people this year, greater than the expected deaths from COVID-19. “Tobacco is the real pandemic. It is on track to kill five times as many people as COVID-19,” said Dr. John Oyston, a medical doctor from Canada.
“Prohibiting tocacco harm reduction products such as e-cigarettes or vape, HnB devices, and snus will not just affect people who have already made the switch. This will affect people who are still trying to quit regular combustible cigarettes, depriving them of their right to do the switch, or basically, just to choose. A person’s right to choose is not just a consumer right, but it’s a basic human right,” Clarissa Virgino said.
Smoke-free nicotine products are considered a part of tobacco harm reduction, which is a public health strategy that aims to provide alternatives to reduce risks caused by smoking cigarettes, AP reported.Read the AP article here
“Tobacco harm reduction is good public health,” said GFN conference director Gerry Stimson, emeritus professor at Imperial College London and a former honorary professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
“It starts with the people who matter – people who smoke and people who have switched to a chosen alternative – and it fosters and encourages change. Tobacco harm reduction is not antithetical to tobacco control; it should be part of it.”
Participants highlighted the need for 1.1 billion smokers and millions of adults who have switched away from smoking to access appropriately regulated safer nicotine products such as vapes (e-cigarettes), Swedish snus, nicotine pouches and heat-not-burn tobacco products.
This is because it is the combustion of tobacco, and the release and inhalation of smoke, that causes diseases. Nicotine is not considered a carcinogen, according to health experts.
AP continues: Unlike combustible cigarettes, which are being linked to 20,000 deaths a day globally, tobacco harm reduction products do not produce smoke as they deliver nicotine by heating, and not burning tobacco.
Samrat Chowdhery, vice-president of the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organizations, stated that people involved in the tobacco trade, especially in low- and middle-income countries, oppose tobacco harm reduction products for fear of revenue losses.
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