Knowledge Action Change (KAC), a British public health organization, has published a new report on worldwide tobacco harm reduction.
The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction (GSTHR) maps the global, regional and national availability and use of safer nicotine products (SNP), the regulatory responses to these products, and the public health potential of tobacco harm reduction.
Tobacco harm reduction concept supports people to quit smoking by using safer nicotine products (SNP) including vaping devices (e-cigarettes), heated tobacco products (HTP) and pasteurized oral snus, improving health and reducing deaths by enabling people to use nicotine without the smoke that causes disease. In a world-first, the authors of Burning Issues reveal an estimate for the total global number of users of safer nicotine products, showing that there is an urgent need to scale up tobacco harm reduction if its full public health potential is to be realized.
Globally, only 9 out of every 100 tobacco consumers use safer nicotine products, according to a study published by KAC. According to the report, in order to reduce the diseases associated with cigarette smoking, it is important for more consumers to replace cigarettes with its smokeless alternatives.
“• Overall, 98 million people are estimated to use safer nicotine products worldwide;
- Of those, 68 million are vapers, with the largest vaping populations in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, China, the Russian Federation, and Mexico;
- 20 million are HTP users; with most HTP users in Japan, where cigarette sales have dropped by 32% since 2016 when HTP were launched;
- 10 million are US smokeless or snus users.” says the report.
“There are 1.1 billion people in the world, a number that has remained almost unchanged over the last two decades, despite the fact that governments and the World Health Organization have spent billions of dollars on tobacco control measures. Globally, 80% of cigarette smokers live in low and middle income countries.
Cigarette consumption remains one of the leading causes of disease and mortality. The WHO estimates that it is the cause of up to 8 million deaths each year.
It is therefore clear that it is necessary to find an immediate decision. “Especially in the middle- and low-income countries, where tobacco control measures are often poorly or partially implemented,” – the report concluded.
The KAC report also highlights that since safer nicotine products have become available, accessible and affordable in countries such as Japan, the UK and Iceland, existing declines in smoking rates have accelerated. However, the organization estimates that these examples show that more public health systems should consider smoke-free tobacco products as an effective way to reduce cigarette-related illnesses. In contrast, different countries have different approaches. For example, in several countries in South Asia, the sale of e-cigarettes is banned, and much more harmful products – traditional cigarettes are easily accessible.
According to KAC Director Professor Gerry Stimson, “this is a decisive moment for the future health of 1.1 billion smokers around the world, who deserve better than the status quo. Policymakers engaged in the current European Commission Tobacco Products Directive revision and next year’s WHO FCTC Conference of the Parties must consider the evidence for tobacco harm reduction’s role, listen to consumers, and deliver policies that genuinely focus on reducing the global toll of smoking-related disease and deaths as quickly as possible. If integrated into tobacco control, harm reduction could be a game-changer in the battle against the non-communicable disease.”