Philip Morris International is investigating how smoke-free products can provide an alternative to cigarettes for those who continue to use tobacco or other products containing nicotine.
Despite being aware of the obvious health risks, many smokers continue to smoke today. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are more than a billion smokers in the world, and this number is not expected to change significantly in the coming years.
Smoking causes a number of serious diseases (including cardiovascular, lung diseases and cancer) and increases the risk of early death. Cigarette smoking is responsible for about eight million deaths each year and is therefore a major public health problem for governments, regulators and public health authorities around the world.
Tobacco harm reduction
Leaving is undoubtedly the right way. But how do we convince those who otherwise prefer to continue smoking? Harm reduction continues to be the subject of intense debate among health officials. Quitting smoking is without a doubt the best way to reduce the risk of smoking-related diseases. However, for adult smokers who do not quit, the opportunity to switch to evidence-based, less harmful alternatives has great potential to accelerate the decline in the number of people who smoke cigarettes. This is the principle of tobacco harm reduction (THR).
Many believe that nicotine is the main problem when it comes to smoking. Nicotine is addictive and unsafe, but contrary to what many believe, experts agree that nicotine alone cannot be the primary cause of smoking-related illness. It is chronic exposure to toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke produced when tobacco is burned that causes disease. On average, a cigarette burns tobacco at temperatures between 600 and 1000°C and releases more than 6000 chemicals when burned. Many of these chemicals have been identified as causes or potential causes of smoking-related diseases.
Bridging the Awareness Gap
Nicotine replacement therapies (NRT), such as patches or chewing gum, have been around for decades but have proven less effective in changing long-term smoking habits. On the other hand, smokeless products that mimic the ritual actions and delivery of nicotine when smoking cigarettes have become much more widespread, discouraging adult smokers from cigarettes in countries where they are regulated and available. Barriers faced by adult smokers in using smoke-free alternatives relate to a number of critical areas: education, policy and regulation, and institutional support.
There is science. It has been proven across multiple industries and independent studies that smoke-free products, while not without risk, have proven to be the best alternative to regular smoking. Raising awareness of smoke-free products that promote harm reduction requires a collaborative effort not only from industry players, but also from public health authorities who recognize its benefits and policies.
Tobacco control measures that prevent smoking and support smoking cessation play a key role in reducing the harm caused by smoking. In several countries around the world, including the UK and New Zealand, the use of regulated new nicotine and tobacco products is seen as a viable alternative for smokers who are not quitting, and their use is being encouraged by public health authorities.
We at Philip Morris International (PMI) are also doing our part by working closely with regulators to share the evidence from our many years of clinical trials to reduce disease as we work to create a smoke-free future. These studies allow us and relevant authorities to better understand the public health benefits of quitting smoking.
Alternative nicotine delivery
By less harmful alternatives, we mean smokeless, heated tobacco products or electronic or electronic cigarettes (vapes). Although these products are relatively new, emerging and becoming increasingly popular over the past decade as alternative products for adult smokers, the THR concept was first brought up in the 1970s when Michael A.H. The Lancet (1974).
Because THR is a strategy to avoid inhaling cigarette smoke, smokers, as well as health authorities and practitioners, must separate the risk of burning tobacco from the risk of simply delivering nicotine to the body using smokeless devices. Thus, adult smokers must have access to education and evidence-based research so that they can make fully informed decisions.
While not safe, but scientifically proven and meeting quality and safety standards, smoke-free products are the best alternative for adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke.
This article is sponsored by Philip Morris Management Services (ME)