On World No Tobacco Day each year, the world becomes more united towards the end game of tobacco use, but the unfortunate reality is that more and more smokers continue to use combustible cigarettes, especially more minors, and more nonsmokers starting the bad habit. Even as they increase, the number of smokers become mere statistics on presentations prepared by Ministries of Health.
Since the introduction of New Generation Products (NGPs) such as vape systems and heated tobacco, they have been continuously encouraged by adult smokers thus hindered regulators. They have been more successful in helping adult smokers quit conventional cigarettes – and has been more effective in achieving the switch other than any other solution in the past 50 years or more.
Have these products been confirmed 100% as safe, harmless, and risk-free products?
The answer is simple, a big NO.
To address the smoking issue, we need to start by being honest and credible in explaining the limitations of these products. They need further studies and trials to understand the way they function, and their effects and side effects, whether positive or negative, and compare these effects relative to the harm reduction achieved by replacing conventional cigarettes.
The matrix of harm reduction:
- Products presented to the public, as a nicotine alternative product, should be acceptable to the public, to ease the switching from combustible cigarettes to NGPs.
- Acceleration by governments to support the provision of funding for research & development to provide scientific substantiation, studies, and clinical trials, which will materialize the scientific claims regarding harm/risk reduction.
- Differential regulatory and fiscal frameworks; while we call for an action by regulators to differentiate NGPs from conventional cigarettes, to allow proper switching by adult smokers, the same desire for differential treatment should be matched by very restrictive legislation to protect non/ex-smokers, and minors from the exposure to any kind of advertising, or marketing of any nicotine products, whether conventional or new generation. These products should be available only to adult smokers or users of nicotine delivery solutions; proper age verification should be in place, and other protective measures should be adopted by governments, and embraced by the industry.
- Switching consumers towards NGPs should be complemented by the push towards quitting the use of nicotine altogether, and at once, as this is the best way to avoid any smoking-related diseases. In case smokers could not quit, the recommendation to switch to the nicotine delivery solutions serves as a better alternative, leading to quitting nicotine use altogether.
We encourage all competitors to step forward, and allocate budgets to more innovation in the NGPs, understanding and appreciating the role of the first comers in this sector, and go the extra mile and join forces in the innovation platform, while protecting competitive advantages. More companies presenting innovation and undertaking studies will allow for a faster and more solid breakthroughs on the scientific, health, and technological fronts.
We encourage governments to support innovation and research, while protecting vulnerable categories from the exposure to nicotine products, tightening regulations on conventional cigarettes, and establishing a positive dialogue with the innovators and manufacturers of these products to present best-in-class products to adult smokers, and elevate how new generations would be protected from conventional cigarettes, and as a result, lead to quitting all nicotine products.
Our message is clear, BREAK FREE FROM CIGARETTES, TODAY.
Mohammad H. Agrabawi
Director of Government Affairs, Public Policy, & Communications