Zimbabwe: Experts report sharp drop in cigarette consumption

Experts believe there is a marked drop in smoking globally which coincides with the gradual implementation of tobacco harm reduction (THR) policies in some countries as well as the growing shift to smokeless alternatives.

This gives hope that there could be a consensus between policy makers and the tobacco industry for sustainable nicotine consumption without necessarily harming public health. It is estimated that there are more than 1.1 billion smokers worldwide, 80 percent of whom live in low- and middle-income countries.

About eight million people die from smoking-related diseases each year. Cigarettes are considered the most dangerous form of nicotine administration, while alternative products can have substantial harm reduction.

Vapers, for example, are considered 95% less harmful than cigarettes.

Professor David Levy of U.S.-based Georgetown University told the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum (GTNF) held September 21-23 in London, UK, that consumers have switched from cigarettes to smokeless tobacco products such as nicotine vaping products (NVP).

He said the market has widened as new platforms such as the internet and vaping shops have emerged to market and sell the products.

As a result, the cigarette market is declining.

“There has been a fairly declining market for cigarettes, but what stands out the most (in the United States since 2013),” said Professor Levy, who is currently a lead investigator at the Regulatory Science Centers of Canada. tobacco from the United States Food and Drug Administration, and developed a new, simplified model to account for trends and implications of e-cigarettes and smoking.

NVPs, he asserted, were increasingly used by people who would have been smokers, and so, in essence, they became “a way to quit rather than smoke”. Experts say that while some policymakers may not necessarily believe in tobacco harm reduction policies, a much more pragmatic approach would allow them to adopt it as was viable and practical.

According to Professor Levy, there would likely be stricter policies on cigarettes, such as increasing the minimum age, stricter enforcement and a potential ban on menthol or mint used to make tasty cigarettes.

“I expect that distrust of harm reduction will decrease as it is recognized that the use of VPNs is likely to be responsible for a substantial part of the decrease in cigarette consumption,” especially among vulnerable groups (young people and people with mental health problems).

Expect it to be recognized that the world of nicotine delivery is less controllable, due to the internet etc, and subject to substantial continuing certainty. They will learn to live with it and see harm reduction approaches as more viable, ”he said.

Studies indicate that the United States has shown a more dramatic reduction in smoking in the United States than in Australia, although the latter has more policies on cigarette control.

After a substantial scientific evaluation, on July 7, 2020, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued rulings on the Modified Risk Tobacco Product (MRTP) applications for IQOS – PMI’s heated tobacco product .

The FDA found that “the IQOS system heats the tobacco but does not burn it”, “it significantly reduces the production of harmful and potentially harmful chemicals” and that “scientific studies have shown that the complete switch from conventional cigarettes to the system IQOS significantly reduces exposure to harmful or potentially harmful chemicals ”.

The agency decided that the available scientific evidence demonstrated that issuing an exposure modification order for IQOS would be appropriate to promote public health and would benefit the health of the population as a whole.

But tobacco harm reduction products are not easily accepted by some global health organizations such as the WHO and policy makers, as they are seen as overtly promoting tobacco use.

The GTNF is a forum for the global exchange of views and ideas between public health experts, government officials, industry and investors. Last year’s forum was held virtually.

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