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Governments urged to draw up tobacco harm reduction policies

Kenya’s Tobacco Control Board has plans to impose tougher controls on nicotine pouches

In Summary

• Kenya’s Tobacco Control Board to impose tougher controls on nicotine pouches as well as vape products.

• At the just concluded seventh Global Forum on Nicotine, experts were of the view that this would help saves millions of smokers.

Some of the nicotine pouches available in the Kenyan market
Some of the nicotine pouches available in the Kenyan market
Image: OLIVER MATHENGE

Experts are urging governments to mainstream Tobacco Harm Reduction policies as a way to improve healthcare systems.

At the just concluded seventh Global Forum on Nicotine, experts were of the view that this would help saves millions of smokers.

This year's edition was held virtually due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic which could not allow delegates to travel to Warsaw.

 

The Kenya-based Campaign for Safer Alternatives (CASA) is also joining the rest of the global scientists in condemning governments' attempts to block smokers from accessing safer nicotine products.

"If we are serious about reducing the 30,000 tobacco-related deaths in Kenya every year, we need to offer smokers a realistic route to quitting cigarettes," CASA chairman Joseph Magero who was participating in the forum said.

Magero added that nicotine products such as oral pouches can provide a lifeline to Kenya’s three million smokers, particularly for those who had given up on quitting.



Kenya’s Tobacco Control Board has plans to impose tougher controls on nicotine pouches as well as vape products.

On the last day of the forum on Friday, President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation Alex Wodak made a presentation on how investment can pay a significant health and social dividend.

Wodak argued that while health system had focused harm reduction in drug abuse and sex diseases, the same has not been done for tobacco related diseases.

He noted that investments in harm reduction mechanisms had led to less deaths from drug abuse and also sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV.

 

"Nicotine replacement therapy is highly cost effective while smokers, and not the taxpayer, pay for products such as vape and other tobacco heated products," Wodak said.

Similar sentiments were shared by Sree Sucharitha, Professor at Tagore Medical College Hospital in India who made a presentation on 'Safer nicotine: the potential for change in developing communities'.

Sucharitha noted that affordability and accessibility was a hinderance to many smokers who were looking for alternatives in developing communities.

She said that there was a need to have governments adopt policies that enhance the access to safer nicotine products.

"Tobacco harm reduction policies should be integrated in national tobacco control policies. There is also need for product innovation to ensure that there is low cost safer nicotine alternatives for a wider range of consumers," Sucharitha said.