“We have the evidence that harm reduction products – Snus, vapes, and heat-not-burn tobacco – are at least 90 percent safer,” Colin Mendelsohn, a conjoint associate professor at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales, said during the 9th International City Health Conference held here from Oct. 3 to 4.
File
Ease rules on cigarette alternatives, health bodies urged
Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - October 13, 2019 - 12:00am

MELBOURNE – Public health advocates from different parts of the world have urged international health bodies and government regulators to ease the restrictive rules against non-combustible, smoke-free nicotine products that are regarded as much safer alternatives to cigarette smoking.

“We have the evidence that harm reduction products – Snus, vapes, and heat-not-burn tobacco – are at least 90 percent safer,” Colin Mendelsohn, a conjoint associate professor at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales, said during the 9th International City Health Conference held here from Oct. 3 to 4.

The Progressive Public Health Alliance, a group of health professionals, researchers and public health advocates, organized the conference that focused on urban health and harm reduction in all its forms.

Harm reduction refers to an approach designed to reduce the negative impact associated with a practice such as cigarette smoking. 

Participants in the conference also urged the public not to be swayed by the recent hysteria against vaping, saying non-combustible, smoke-free nicotine products from reputable suppliers are safer than smoking.

The United Kingdom, which has the most advanced regulation on electronic cigarettes, has not recorded any vaping-related deaths so far, they said.

In 2015, Public Health England, an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care in the UK, reported that the use of electronic cigarettes was 95 percent less harmful than cigarette smoking.

Health advocates noted that countries that allow harm reduction products have experienced a rapid decline in smoking rates. 

Japan, for example, saw a third of its cigarette market disappear since heated tobacco products, such as IQOS, was introduced in 2014. 

Mendelsohn, a tobacco treatment specialist, added there is no credible evidence of a youth vaping epidemic even in the US.

The deaths and their links to vaping are still being investigated by US federal authorities, and no conclusions have been reached.

Among the issues being investigated is the possible use of illicit vaping liquids or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) containing liquids. THC is the main psychoactive component of cannabis.

Reports said more than 75 percent of patients in the US reported using it either exclusively or with nicotine products.

Mendelsohn said tobacco smoking kills 19,000 people in Australia every year. He noted the decline in smoking rates in Australia has stagnated over the past six years because of the government’s ban on harm reduction products.

“Harm reduction products are safer. We are the only western democracy to ban them,” he said, adding that Snus, vaping and heat-not-burn products are “effectively illegal in Australia.”

Hal Swerrisen, a professor at the Grattan Institute, said harm reduction should be a whole of government approach as it has social and economic impacts.

“There should be analysis to look at the costs and benefits of things like tobacco…it is something to be done by the government, not just the health department,” said Swerrisen, an expert on health policy and program development.

PUBLIC HEALTH
Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with