Experts, consumers should be at the center of tobacco harm reduction policies

Efficacy of better policies that improve the overall health an wellbeing of the population.

In Summary

• The report is calling for the scaling up of Tobacco Harm Reduction, which enables smokers to switch to safer risk-reducing alternative nicotine products, eliminating the smoke that causes death and disease.

• Malawi Tobacco Harm Reduction Project Manager Chimwemwe Ngoma spoke on the critical role of Tobacco Harm Reduction for health in low and middle-income countries.

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Governments need to involve experts and consumers when coming up with Tobacco Harm Reduction regulatory policies, a panel affirmed on Wednesday 4th November.

Speaking at the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction forum 2020, experts said that this inclusion would improve the efficacy of the of better policies that improve the overall health, and wellbeing of the population.

“Politicians should listen to the evidence… listen to the experts when developing policies on harm reduction,” said Fiona Patten, MP Australia and leader of the Reason Party.

She noted that many countries had policies that were not working well because experts were not consulted.

“Facts matter and when it comes to harm reduction measures aimed fairly and squarely at fighting the global disaster that is preventable deaths from smoking. Evidence-based regulation is crucial to arrest the death and disease being caused by smoking combustible cigarettes so science matters more than ever,” Patten.

 

Patten noted that the regulation of harm reduction products could be done in a way that protects those who should not have access to it. “We are not only asking how can we reduce harm… we are also asking how can we prevent children from accessing these products...” Patten said.

She was speaking during a report titled Burning Issues: The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction 2020 which was published by UK Public Health agency Knowledge Action Change.

The report is calling for the scaling up of Tobacco Harm Reduction, which enables smokers to switch to safer risk-reducing alternative nicotine products, eliminating the smoke that causes death and disease.

This report focuses on Tobacco Harm Reduction and the benefits to the public and individual health of having available, affordable, appropriate and acceptable safer alternatives to combustible tobacco products.

The report also focuses on the rights of smokers who need the opportunity to switch from smoking and those who have chosen safer alternatives.

Malawi Tobacco Harm Reduction Project Manager Chimwemwe Ngoma spoke on the critical role of Tobacco Harm Reduction for health in low and middle-income countries.

He highlighted one key challenge, which is that government policies and regulations are being unduly influenced by flawed science and anti-harm reduction lobbying.

“In Malawi, for instance, a pack of cigarettes costs less than a dollar while an electronic cigarette is sold for about $75,” Ngoma noted.

New Nicotine Alliance (UK) chairman Martin Cullip said that the consumer voice in determining policy is key to ensuring that policies are sound. "Excluding consumers from research leads to bad research, which leads to bad policy,"

Marina Foltea, founder and Managing Director at Trade Pacts, noted that there is the absence of a definitive Tobacco Harm Reduction framework in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

“The FCTC has focused more on-demand and supply rather than effective harm reduction strategies,” Foltea said.

 

Also speaking at the forum, neuro-psycho-pharmacologist David Nutt said that it was important to challenge WHO to allow independent evaluation of data around Tobacco Harm Reduction.

Nutt categorically stated that "Experts in many countries deny the research around nicotine and that is why we haven't made enough progress in saving lives. You cannot dismiss the science and evidence when it comes to the discourse on nicotine.”