CONSIDER TOBACCO HARM REDUCTION?
Here’s a little inconvenient truth to ponder over: according to the United States Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), smoking is said to be the leading cause of preventable death.
To put things into perspective on the gravity of the situation, 15% of deaths worldwide are attributed to smoking. While there are presently an approximate 1.3 billion smokers worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that tobacco use causes over 7 million deaths per year across the globe. If this continues in an uptrend, those figures will climb to more than 8 million deaths by the year 2030… That is a lot of preventable deaths we could - and should - avoid.
So why the number keeps climbing despite campaigns after campaigns that have been running for the past few decades?
It all starts with education and awareness. This stretches across the board from policy makers, to the media and of course, the general public.
The lack of education and awareness presents a huge kink in the chain in streamlining accurate and clear communication down the line on the exact harm that a cigarette can bring to the users.
This creates a bottleneck as government bodies aren’t able to make informed decisions and implement regulations or policies that will allow the smokers to make a better choice. Easy said than done for one to quit smoking, perhaps we should start to look at the propagation of tobacco harm reduction (THR), whether it be innovation or education.
THR is a pragmatic approach designed to assist smokers who are struggling to quit or are unwilling to stop, by encouraging them to switch to less harmful alternatives of nicotine-use. This approach would help reduce the harm of smoking related diseases, and ideally result in an eventual quitting of nicotine-use altogether.
Inevitably, this then trickles down the line, affecting the smoking community themselves as without access to clear, accurate and truthful information on the benefits and risks, smokers are withheld from making better life choices. The phrase “knowledge is power” rings true in this case, with knowledge holding literal power to turn lives around.
Ultimately, without structural regulations in place or proper channels to educate, the willingness of smokers to adopt behavioural change will be impeded, and therefore drawing the gap further from the world, reducing the number of deaths caused by tobacco.
WITH ALL THAT’S BEEN SAID...
The road towards this journey isn’t one that is far-fetched. All we need is a little more time, patience, and understanding, especially among the tobacco industry and the relevant government regulatory bodies.
And while the authority and power lies primarily in the hands of policy makers who set the tone for its citizens, change and advocacy can also start with you. By reading this article, you are already one step closer to grasping the importance of tobacco harm reduction. And by knowing the harm that cigarette brings to you as well as the people surrounding you, it is probably the time for you to explore other better alternatives rather than continuing to smoke cigarettes.
Together, let’s empower, encourage and equip one another to embark on this journey!