The government must end spreading myths around vaping to prevent the spread of false information

KUALA LUMPUR, 25th May 2023 – The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) demands that the government must stop issuing myths or false statements about vaping being more dangerous than cigarettes in order to avoid misunderstandings and the spread of inaccurate information to consumers and the public.

Representative of the Malaysian Consumer Choice Center, Tarmizi Anuwar said: “It is time for the government to stop spreading myths or false information about vaping being supposedly more dangerous than cigarettes. Many internationally recognized scientific studies have concluded that switching completely to vaping provides important health benefits as opposed to continuing to smoke.

In September 2022, the latest research from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London found that the use of vaping products compared to smoking leads to a significant reduction in exposure to toxins that promote cancer, lung disease and cardiovascular disease.

In addition, Tarmizi also said that claims about vaping causing diseases such as EVALI and popcorn lung is completely deceptive as advertised and there needs to be a law based on facts and scientific studies to regulate vaping products immediately.

“So much misleading news are connecting e-cigarettes to lung injuries known as EVALI. But the root cause is the abuse of prohibited substances containing vitamin E acetate and not legal vaping products.”

“A study conducted by Research Cancer UK indicates that e-cigarettes generally do not cause pulmonary disease known as popcorn lung. To date, no confirmed cases of popcorn lung have been reported among individuals using electronic cigarettes or vaping products.”

“That is why it is important that facts and science be used as the primary means of formulating legislation aimed at setting quality and safety standards for vaping. This not only protects consumers, but also ensures that vaping is one of the effective tools in helping people quit smoking.”

Regarding the so-called many teenagers around the world becoming addicted to nicotine and taking cigarettes because of vaping, Tarmizi believes there is no data to support the view that this problem is spreading among teenagers but believes that vaping underage should not be allowed.

Recently, the Director of the Center for Tobacco Products, Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Brian King said that vaping is not a gateway to smoking for teenagers. He said the use of cigarettes and smoke-free tobacco has declined more rapidly since 2012, when the use of e-cigarettes began to rise.

In addition, the health charity that aims to end the dangers of tobacco established by the Royal College of Physicians, Action on Smoking and Health, states that youth smoking rates are at an all-time low in the United Kingdom and that the use of electronic cigarettes by youth between 11-18 years old is rare.

“However, minors should not be allowed to vape. In order to avoid or reduce the risk of this happening, the government needs to enforce age restrictions through smart rules such as using modern age verification technology for online sales,” he concluded.


It may surprise those who need to become more familiar with how politics works in Hungary. Still, it is just business as usual for those familiar with the government’s stand on policy issues.

Whenever opposition members of parliament raise a sensible policy issue, the Hungarian government finds a way to either discredit the MP, shove the topic off the table, or completely disregard the issue. This was no different when László Lukács, the party group leader of Jobbik-Conservatives, asked the Minister of the Interior a question about revisiting the regulation regarding e-cigarettes. (It might be worth another article on what the Minister of the Interior has to do with health issues, but Hungary has not had a Health Ministry since Fidesz took over 13 years ago).

MP Lukács enquired about the possibility of changing the law since it has been in effect for seven years and new scientific evidence has come to light in many countries; people have experienced positive results due to more flexible legislatures and common sense.

But this is Hungary, where many policy issues meet with the arrogance of government officials who disregard facts and only focus on humiliating their colleagues in opposition.

The reply by the State Secretary was relatively straightforward. The Hungarian government considers vaping harmful and would not plan on changing the present legislation: no consideration, no openness to new studies, and no interest in looking at best practices.

The attitude of the State Secretary has shocked Michael Landl, the director of the World Vapers’ Alliance (the guest on our podcastsome months ago), who issued a press release about the official statement presented by the Hungarian government. According to Mr. Landl, “It is shocking that the Hungarian government still pedals worn-out and debunked myths about vaping. Rétvári systematically ignores scientific evidence proving the benefits of vaping, not to mention the first-hand experience of millions of vapers. Vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking and a more effective method to quit smoking than traditional therapies such as gum and nicotine patches. The Hungarian approach to vaping will do nothing but cost lives.” 

The director of the WVA also claims that the statement shows that Hungary ignores science and spreads misinformation about vaping. He says that “This is not a good sign for public health. Vaping is not the same as smoking and must be treated differently. Equating a 95% less harmful alternative with smoking will prevent thousands of smokers from quitting.”

It is worth noting that the Hungarian government disregards Swedish and British examples showing the success of using vaping as a harm reduction tool to give up smoking.  These two countries are experiencing record-low smoking rates and illnesses attributed to smoking, and they provide the world with good examples of switching from smoking to vaping. This, however, falls on deaf ears in the prohibitionist Hungarian government, which would probably also defend witchcraft if its interests required it.

Originally published here

Pentingnya Peneliti Indonesia Meneliti Kebijakan Harm Reduction di Negara Lain

Rokok elektrik, atau yang dikenal juga dengan nama vape, saat ini merupakan produk yang digunakan oleh banyak orang di seluruh dunia, termasuk juga di Indonesia. Kita, khususnya yang tinggal di wilayah perkotaan, tentu sudah tidak asing lagi melihat penggunaan rokok elektrik di berbagai tempat.

Indonesia sendiri memiliki jumlah populasi pengguna vape yang tidak kecil. Tercatat pada tahun 2022 lalu misalnya, Indonesia memiliki sekitar 2,2 juta pengguna vape, di mana angka ini merupakan peningkatan sebesar 40% dari tahun 2021 (ekonomi.bisnis.com, 18/7/2022).

Jumlah pengguna di atas 2 juta orang tentu bukan merupakan angka yang kecil. Dengan besarnya jumlah pengguna vape tersebut, tentu ada alasan yang beragam yang membuat para konsumen untuk menggunakan produk tersebut. Mulai dari alasan finansial, bahwa secara total biaya vape lebih murah dibandingkan rokok, hingga vape digunakan sebagai alat yang dapat membantu para penggunanya untuk mengurangi atau berhenti merokok.

Vape atau rokok elektrik sendiri memang sudah menjadi salah satu alat yang difungsikan untuk membantu para perokok untuk mengurangi hingga menghentikan kebiasaan merokoknya. Inggris misalnya, melalui National Health Service (NHS), telah merekomendasikan rokok elektrik sebagai alat untuk membantu para perokok untuk berhenti merokok (nhs.uk, 10/10/2022).

Di sisi lain, tidak sedikit pula pihak-pihak yang memiliki tanggapan negatif terhadap fenomena meningkatnya pengguna vape di Indonesia. Mereka yang memiliki sikap sangat kontra, umumnya berpandangan bahwa vape atau rokok elektrik merupakan produk yang sangat berbahaya bagi kesehatan publik sehingga harus dilarang, atau setidaknya diregulasi secara sangat ketat.

Beberapa lembaga kesehatan dunia sendiri justru telah menyatakan bahwa rokok elektrik atau vape merupakan produk yang lebih aman dibandingkan rokok konvensional yang dibakar. Lembaga kesehatan publik asal Inggris, Public Health England, misalnya, pada tahun 2015 lalu, mengeluarkan laporan yang menyatakan bahwa vape merupakan produk yang 95% lebih tidak berbahaya bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar (theguardian.com, 28/12/2018).

Itulah sebabnya, vape cukup sering digunakan sebagai alat untuk membantu kebijakan harm reduction dari rokok. Harm reduction sendiri merupakan serangkaian kebijakan atau program yang ditujukan untuk mengurangi dampak negatif dari penggunaan produk tertentu yang berbahaya, seperti rokok misalnya.

Menjadikan vape atau rokok elektrik sebagai alat untuk membantu program dan kebijakan harm reduction sendiri mungkin merupakan sesuatu yang belum terlalu akrab di telinga publik. Tidak bisa dipungkiri, salah satu penyebab utama dari hal ini adalah masih banyak pihak-pihak yang memiliki pandangan bahwa vape merupakan produk yang sama bahayanya, atau bahkan jauh lebih berbahaya, dari rokok konvensional yang dibakar.

Untuk itu, sangat penting bagi para peneliti dan juga para pembuat kebijakan untuk bekerja sama dan saling bertukar pengalaman dengan para peneliti dan juga pembuat kebijakan harm reduction di negara lain. Indonesia sendiri sebenarnya sudah memiliki potensi untuk melakukan hal tersebut.

Beberapa waktu lalu misalnya, ada peneliti asal Indonesia yang memaparkan penelitian mengenai pengurangan bahaya tembakau di sebuah konferensi di ibukota Filipina, Manila. Dalam konferensi tersebut, tim peneliti dari Fakultas Kedokteran Gigi Universitas Padjadjaran (FKG UNPAD) memaparkan mengenai penelitian mereka mengenai masalah tingkat merokok yang tinggi di Indonesia dan dampaknya terhadap kesehatan, khususnya terhadap kesehatan gigi dan mulut.

Dalam pemaparannya, tim FKG UNPAD menyatakan bahwa terdapat perbedaan profil risiko pengguna vape dan produk tembakau yang dipanaskan dengan rokok konvensional. Risiko vape dan tembakau yang dipanaskan terhadap kesehatan lebih rendah bila dibandingkan dengan rokok (tribunnews.com, 24/3/2023).

Selain itu, dipaparkan juga oleh tim tersebut bahwa produk vape dan tembakau yang dipanaskan memiliki peran potensial untuk membantu para perokok aktif untuk mengurangi kebiasaan merokoknya. Tidak hanya itu, tim dari FKG UNPAD tersebut juga melakukan studi yang mengevaluasi penggunaan vape dan tembakau yang dipanaskan secara jangka panjang, yang juga berkolaborasi dengan berbagai peneliti dari negara lain seperti Italia, Polandia, dan Moldova (tribunnews.com, 24/3/2023).

Adanya peran aktif para peneliti Indonesia di konferensi internasional dan juga kerja sama dengan peneliti dari negara lain tentu merupakan hal yang patut untuk diapresiasi dan didukung. Permasalahan kesehatan publik yang disebabkan oleh rokok tentu bukan hanya masalah besar yang melanda Indonesia, tetapi juga masalah besar yang dialami oleh banyak negara di dunia.

Sebagai penutup, rokok merupakan salah satu masalah kesehatan publik terbesar di Indonesia saat ini, mengingat bahwa Indonesia merupakan salah satu negara dengan prevalensi perokok dewasa tertinggi di dunia. Melalui kerjasama dan kolaborasi penelitian tersebut, diharapkan akan tercipta ekosistem penelitian mengenai program dan kebijakan harm reduction yang lebih komprehensif, dan para peneliti dan pembuat kebijakan di Indonesia bisa saling belajar satu sama lain dan bertukar pengalaman dengan para peneliti dan pembuat kebijakan dari negara-negara lain.

Originally published here

The UK to Handout a Million Vape Starter Kits to Smokers Seeking to Quit

The Ministry of Health will be giving out the kits as part of a new anti-smoking drive which includes plans for a crackdown on illicit vape sales. 

While official UK public health groups such as Public Health England (PHE) and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) keep assuring that there is no teen vaping epidemic while arguing in favour of the benefits of vapes for smoking cessation, the Guardian has just released an article claiming that teen vaping is a “public health catastrophe.”

“I am concerned that we are sleepwalking into a public health catastrophe with a generation of children hooked on nicotine,” said Prof. Andrew Bush, a consultant paediatric chest physician at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals, as quoted by the Guardian. The article went on to quote a number of parents who are voicing their concerns about their children’s vaping habits.

Meanwhile, the Consumer Choice Center (CCC) cited a 2021 Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) report, which examined vaping behaviours among youths in the UK, and found that an overwhelming majority (83%) of teens and pre-teens aged between 11 and 18, have never tried or even heard of e-cigarettes. This finding has remained consistent since 2017.

Read the full text here

Unity gov’t needs to swiftly legislate sale of only ‘registered’ vapes to prevent drug abuse

THE Malaysian Substance Abuse Council (MASAC) has called on the Government to put in place a special budget for further studies towards creating a special law to mandate that only vapes approved by the Government can be sold by traders.

The come about as the presence of various vape brands that do not go through the proper approval process has resulted in vapes flavoured with prohibited substances such as drugs to be made available in the market, according to MASAC president Ahmad Lutfi Abdul Latiff.

“This has resulted in more drug addicts starting to smoke drugs through the use of vapes that are not registered with the government before gradually switching to more dangerous types of drugs in the future,” he highlighted in MASAC’s revised Budget 2023 wish list.

“There is a need to streamline efforts to create special legislation to sell only registered vapes, ability to control the use of prohibited substances such as drugs from widespread use especially among teenagers and towards increasing the government’s income from registered vape taxes.”

Meanwhile, the Consumer Choice Centre (CCC) agrees with Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa regarding concerns about the sale of vaping-related products to children.

According to the representative of its Malaysian chapter, Tarmizi Anuwar, CCC does not support vaping by youth or children under 18 years of age and suggested that the government quickly implement smart laws to regulate the sale and marketing of vape products.

Read the full text here

Taiwanese actress’ vape case triggers debate on smoking alternatives regulation

A SOCIAL media post by Taiwanese actress Charlene An about her apprehension by Thai police and the hefty fine she had to pay for possession of vape product in Bangkok sparked debates on the merits of smoke-free alternative and the need for reasonable regulations.

An said she and her friends had to pay 27,000 baht (about S$1,080) before they could leave after being held and threatened with criminal charges by Thai police for the possession of vaping device. Thailand’s police commissioner issued an apology following An’s post and seven officers were placed under investigation for alleged extortion.

Following this incident that went viral on social media, calls from advocacy groups worldwide on the importance of reasonable and science-based regulation governing smoke-free alternatives like vapes and heated tobacco products ensued.

Nicotine Consumers Union of the Philippines (NCUP) appealed for governments to reconsider less-harmful cigarette alternatives to reduce harm from smoking.

“We hope that other Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, would recognize the concept of tobacco harm reduction (THR) to save millions of smokers from lung diseases, cancer and even death. Smokers should be given access to less harmful products and make better decisions for themselves,” Anton Israel, NCUP president said.

“Vapes and heated tobacco products are tobacco harm reduction products that deliver nicotine without burning tobacco significantly lowering the number of harmful chemicals than smoking.

Many progressive countries, including the UK and Japan, recognize the role of these products to help smokers abandon cigarettes. Both these countries recorded significant decline in smoking prevalence following the introduction of vapes and heated tobacco products” Israel added.

Read the full text here

Thailand police crackdown on tourists with vape devices shows they desperately need harm reduction policies

Harm reduction vs. smoking

If you happen to practice harm reduction and have a vape device in your pocket, it seems Thailand is the last place you’re going to want to visit.

In the last few days, it was revealed that police officers allegedly extorted a Taiwanese actress of more than 27,000 baht ($820) for…wait for it…having a vaping device.

Taiwanese actress Charlene An got into a taxi with friends after a night out in the Thai capital and was caught with a vape and was held by the police and not allowed to leave until she paid the steep fine.

The police officers have at last been transferred and may face their own charges, while the police have been forced to apologize to the Taiwanese tourist for the gross misstep.

This is not only an abuse of power and irresponsible in its own right, but it proves again why Thailand must modernize its policies on harm reduction and embrace alternatives to smoking like vaping and other products.

Before that, in 2019, a tourist from France was arrested, fined, jailed and deported just for vaping. She had to bear legal costs, expenses and fines of approximately 286,000 Baht ($8730) in just one week.

For any tourist, this can be unsettling, but it’s even more problematic that local residents don’t have access to legal harm reduction products. This is what happens when the government’s own policy sees vaping as a threat.

The Thai government must immediately re-evaluate their policy on vaping and take into account the proposal from Minister Thanakamanusorn to legalize the use of vaping as a way to give smokers the option to quit.

The government should replicate the implementation of policies in countries such as the United Kingdom that have succeeded in significantly reducing smoking rates through the recognition of harm reduction as the main strategy.

Based on data recently released by the United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics, the number of smokers aged 18 and over has decreased from 14.0 percent in 2020 to 13.3 percent in 2021. In fact, this is the most effective decrease since it was first recorded in 2011 by 20.2 percent.

In August last year, Thailand’s Public Health Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul stated that e-cigarettes pose significant health risks to users and that vaping helps create new smokers, especially among young people in Thailand.

Based on a recent study by the Office for Health Improvement & Disparities United Kingdom stated vaping significantly lowered exposure to harmful substances compared to smoking, as shown by biomarkers associated with the risk of cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.

Besides, an analytical survey by Lee, Coombs dan Afolalu (2018) said the actual factors of vaping among youth have yet to be proven. In addition, according to the Royal College of Physicians, reports stating that teenagers who use vaping are at risk of potentially giving birth to a generation affected by nicotine are not based on evidence.

If policymakers took this into account, perhaps there would be more people with different options for harm reduction in Thailand, and perhaps less cases of abuse by police officers.

Tarmizi Anuwar is the Malaysia Country Associate of the Consumer Choice Center.

Rokok Elektrik dan Miskonsepsinya

Rokok elektrik atau vape saat ini merupakan salah satu produk yang menjadi bagian keseharian yang tidak bisa dilepaskan dari jutaan orang di seluruh dunia, termasuk juga tentunya di Indonesia. Di berbagai tempat, khususnya di wilayah perkotaan, kita bisa dengan mudah menemukan berbagai pengguna vape, dan juga berbagai pertokoan yang menjual produk-produk rokok elektrik yang sangat beragam.

Semakin banyaknya konsumen yang memilih untuk mengkonsumsi vape atau rokok elektrik ini tentu disebabkan oleh berbagai hal. Setiap orang tentu memiliki alasan yang berbeda-beda mengenai mengapa mereka menggunakan vape, mulai dari harganya yang secara umum lebih murah dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional, pilihan rasa yang lebih beragam, dan juga untuk membantu mereka mengurangi konsumsi rokok konvensional yang dibakar, yang bisa menimbulkan berbagai penyakit kronis.

Di sisi lain, ada juga sebagian kalangan yang memiliki sikap kritis dalam menanggapi semakin meningkatnya pengguna vape atau rokok elektrik yang ada di Indonesia. Mereka berpandangan bahwa vape merupakan produk yang sangat berbahaya, sama seperti rokok konvensional yang dibakar.

Padahal, sudah ada laporan yang dikeluarkan oleh berbagai lembaga kesehatan internasional yang menyatakan bahwa, vape atau rokok elektrik merupakan produk yang jauh lebih aman bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar. Salah satu dari lembaga kesehatan yang telah mengeluarkan laporan tersebut adalah lembaga kesehatan publik asal Britania Raya, Public Health England (PHE). PHE dalam laporannya menyatakan bahwa vape atau rokok elektrik merupakan produk yang 95% jauh lebih tidak berbahaya bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional (theguardian.com, 28/12/2018).

Oleh karena itu, untuk melihat fenomena tersebut secara lebih dalam, beberapa waktu lalu, lembaga advokasi konsumen internasional, Consumer Choice Center (CCC), melakukan riset mengenai persepsi masyarakat terkait dengan kebijakan harm reduction produk-produk tembakau, khususnya rokok konvensional yang dibakar. Penelitian itu sendiri dilakukan di dua negara Eropa, yakni Jerman dan Prancis.

Meskipun sudah ada laporan yang dikeluarkan oleh lembaga kesehatan publik dari berbagai negara bahwa vape atau rokok elektrik jauh lebih tidak berbahaya dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar, tetapi masih banyak miskonsepsi yang diyakini oleh banyak orang. Hal ini bisa dilihat dari hasil laporan yang dilakukan oleh CCC.

Berdasarkan riset yang dilakukan oleh CCC misalnya, di Jerman, hanya ada 3 dari 15 dokter yang pernah mendengar dan mengetahui istilah harm reduction untuk mengurangi dampak buruk dari rokok. Oleh karena itu tidak mengherankan bahwa, sebagian besar dokter di Jerman tidak menganggap bahwa produk-produk vape atau rokok elektrik sebagai alat yang bisa digunakan untuk program harm reduction (consumerchoicecenter.org, 2022).

Sebagai catatan, harm reduction sendiri merupakan serangkaian kebijakan kesehatan publik yang dirancang dengan tujuan untuk mengurangi dampak negatif dari perilaku sosial tertentu. Hal ini mencakup berbagai perilaku, seperti konsumsi rokok, kegiatan seksual yang beresiko, dan lain sebagainya.

Kembali ke penelitian yang dilakukan oleh CCC, hal ini cukup berbeda dari hasil penelitian yang ada di Prancis. Di negara tempat Menara Eiffel tersebut, sebagian besar dokter pernah mendengar dan mengetahui istilah harm reduction, dan menganggap bahwa vape atau rokok elektrik bisa digunakan sebagai alat harm reduction.

Hasil penelitian lainna, ditembukan bahwa 33% perokok di Prancis dan 43% perokok di Jerman menganggap bahwa rokok elektrik memiliki bahaya yang sama atau bahkan lebih berbahaya dari rokok konvensional yang dibakar. Selain itu 69% perokok di Prancis dan 74% perokok di Jerman menganggap nikotin dapat menyebabkan kanker.

Hal ini adalah pandangan yang sangat keliru, karena nikotin dalam rokok merupakan kandungan yang menyebabkan ketagihan, namun nikotin tidak menyebabkan kanker. Ada berbagai terapi berbasis nikotin yang aman yang disarankan oleh dokter untuk para perokok yang ingin berhenti merokok (cancerresearchuk.org, 24/3/2021),

Adanya miskonsepsi tersebut juga menimbulkan dampak yang negatif dan membuat para perokok di kedua negara tersebut menjadi lebih sulit untuk menghilangkan kebiasaannya yang sangat berbahaya tersebut. Berdasarkan riset yang dilakukan CCC misalnya, 29% perokok di Prancis dan 45% perokok di Jerman tidak pernah mendapatkan masukan dari dokter tentang bagaimana langkah efektif yang bisa mereka lakukan untuk berhenti merokok.

Dari penelitian CCC di atas, meskipun dilakukan di dua negara Eropa, ada hal yang bisa ditarik dan memiliki relevansi dengan fenomena yang terjadi di Indonesia. Di Indonesia sendiri, miskonsepsi mengenai rokok elektrik merupakan sesuatu yang sangat umum. Beberapa waktu lalu misalnya, tidak sedikit pekerja medis misalnya yang mengadvokasi agar pemerintah melarang seluruh produk vape yang ada di Indonesia (cnnindonesia.com, 24/9/2019).

Sebagai penutup, adanya miskonsepsi mengenai produk-produk vape dan juga kegunannya sebagai alat harm reduction bagi para perokok tentu akan sangat merugikan publik, khususnya mereka yang sudah kecanduan dengan rokok dan memiliki keinginan untuk berhenti. Hal ini semakin berbahaya terutama di negara dengan tingkat perokok yang sangat tinggi seperti di Indonesia. Untuk itu, adanya kampanye mengenai pentingnya produk-produk tembakau alternatif seperti rokok elektrik untuk alat harm reduction merupakan sesuatu yang sangat penting, agar semakin banyak orang-orang yang bisa terbantu untuk mereka berhenti merokok.

Originally published here

CCC supports MOH to conduct full re-assessment on Tobacco Bill

THE Consumer Choice Centre (CCC) which represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe has commended newly minted Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa for taking the right measure to re-assess the Tobacco Bill.

Recently Dr Zaliha said the proposed Tobacco and Smoking Products Control Bill 2022 will be reviewed and re-evaluated before a decision is being made. The PKR-Pakatan Harapan (PH) MP for Sekijang is spot on for mentioning that implementation of any key policy must be pursued gradually or on a step-by-step basis and not drastically.

Concurring with the decision of Dr Zaliha, CCC Malaysia associate Tarmizi Anuwar said some of the proposed measures which include the Generational End Game (GEG) policy is too extreme and has created a lot of complexity.

He also pointed out the need to differentiate tobacco products from vape given the latter’s potential as a less harmful product to help reduce the number of cigarette smokers in the country.

Read the full text here

Widespread misinformation about vaping hurts public health

Quitting cigarettes is one of the hardest things to do, as many former and current smokers know from painful personal experience. Public health and politicians must do better to help smokers quit. 700,000 deaths per year in the EU should be enough of an incentive to make us rethink our current approach.

To effectively help smokers quit for good, three conditions must be met:

Firstly, smokers must be able to choose from as many options as possible to find out what smoking cessation method works best for them. People are different, and therefore different ways to give up smoking must be made available and affordable. For very few people (less than 4%), quitting with no help works. For a few, nicotine replacement therapy (such as nicotine gums or patches) works, and it turns out that for many people, new nicotine alternatives help them with quitting smoking once and for all. Those products range from vaping and heat-not-burn products to snus or nicotine pouches. What all these new forms have in common is that they separate nicotine consumption from the combustion of tobacco (which produces the vast majority of the toxicity of smoking), making them far less harmful than smoking cigarettes. Each one is different, each working best for each different person.

62% of smokers in France and 53% in Germany believe anti-smoking policies ignore how difficult it is to stop smoking. Clearly, smokers are not satisfied with traditional cessation methods and therefore look to vaping as a means of quitting

Secondly, we need a modern, open regulatory framework to fit these new alternatives. These new products are not the same as smoking. Hence, they must not be painted with the same regulatory brush. What we need instead is risk-based regulation. Vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking and, therefore, must not be treated the same way. Harm reduction must become a centrepiece of anti-smoking policies, like in the field of pharmaceutical drugs. Harm reduction follows practical strategies and solutions to reduce harmful consequences associated with using certain substances instead of an unrealistic `just quit´ approach. Encouraging smokers who are not able to or don’t want to quit smoking to switch to vaping is a best-case example of harm reduction.

Thirdly, smokers must have accurate information about the potential risks of different products to make decisions. The same applies to medical professionals who are working with those smokers. They need to know the facts to make a lasting difference for smokers.

Read the full text here

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