The rapid rise of smoke-free nicotine products, especially vaping, is the most disruptive influence on smoking in decades. These products are challenging not only smoked tobacco’s stranglehold on the nicotine market but also the public health response to tobacco harm reduction, including by WHO. In October, 2018, 72 experts with no connections to the tobacco industry wrote to the WHO Director-General to argue that WHO should embrace innovation and more actively include tobacco harm reduction in its strategy to tackle the burden of smoking-related disease. However, the WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2019 continues to underappreciate the potential of low-risk alternatives to smoking.
Vaping and other smoke-free products have the potential to reduce the enormous harm of smoked tobacco products. The stakes of getting policy responses to smoke-free products wrong are high, especially if such restrictions stop millions of the world’s smokers accessing safer alternatives. It is disappointing that in its latest tobacco report, WHO clings to outdated orthodoxy when it could embrace innovation. Equating smoke-free products with cigarettes only serves to protect the stranglehold of the cigarette trade on the world’s nicotine users and will nullify the potential of modern tobacco harm reduction strategies.
Source : Nicotine without smoke: fighting the tobacco epidemic with harm reduction (The Lancet)
Published : August 31, 2019 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(19)31884-7