New Approaches Emerge Based on Potentially Safer Alternatives than Cigarettes
The virtually conducted Third Scientific Summit concluded on Friday, September 25 with the founding of the International Association on Smoking Control & Harm Reduction (SCOHRE). The two-day forum tackled novel approaches towards tobacco control and harm reduction in addition to various strategies regarding smoking control, prevention and alternatives. SCOHRE’s founding members later announced the establishment of an International Association, underlining its key pillars:
- Providing Scientific Evidence, Including Sharing and Publicizing the Latest Scientific Data, Identifying Research Gaps and Independent Verification of the Industry Data: Health issues are emerging that demand more research and sound interpretation. SCOHRE’s founders stated that more research and publications are needed to raise awareness on the existing knowledge regarding harm reduction, generate more data and create more opportunities to educate health policy experts, regulators and the public, while also appropriately addressing concerns such as the continuous use of, and dependence on, nicotine as well as potential adoption of use by never smokers and youth. They also highlighted that during the past year, more regulatory authorities considered allowing the sales of alternative potentially lower risk tobacco products with accurate information.
- Policy Recommendations and Behavioral Aspects – Focusing on Smokers – What Are the Needs of Those Who Want to Quit Smoking, and How to Effectively Help Those Who Are Not Willing to Quit: The founding members believe that smoking control strategies should be reshaped to include harm reduction through the use of alternative -potentially lower risk- products, besides the traditional smoking cessation and smoking prevention measures. They highlighted that harm reduction can help those who, for various reasons, are not able to quit smoking, adding that this group of smokers should not be abandoned by tobacco control policies. When cessation repeatedly fails, switching to less harmful products will have a positive effect for many smokers.
- Establishing a Dialogue with Policy Experts and Regulators at International, EU and National Level: SCOHRE’s founders explained that the association will consist of international experts on Smoking Control & Harm Reduction, including scientists, medical doctors, policy experts, behavioral experts, academics or professionals, to help come up with a new broader approach to smoking control policies.
However, the debate on tobacco harm reduction is still facing a lot of opposition from some of the key actors, including policy and regulatory bodies. Measures must be found to establish a constructive dialogue to discuss its concerns and challenges.