A groundbreaking research study titled ‘Integrating Harm Reduction Into Tobacco Control’ has unveiled a potential life-saving strategy for Pakistan, suggesting that adopting tobacco harm reduction (THR) measures could prevent over 1.2 million deaths. The study, launched at an event by tobaccoharmreduction.net in London, garnered attention in Pakistan through an online session.

According to a press release on Wednesday, the research offers compelling evidence supporting the integration of harm reduction strategies as a fundamental element of comprehensive tobacco control.

Dr. Derek Yach, the principal author of the report, emphasized the need for a shift in traditional tobacco control measures, stating, “Traditional measures for tobacco control have hit a plateau, despite smoking remaining the primary preventable cause of premature death globally. Governments already possess the tools for transformation; they only need to recognize that tobacco harm reduction products—already used by 150 million people worldwide—are instrumental in resolving this crisis.”

Currently, smoking claims more than 8.5 million lives annually, with projections from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicating a potential surge to 10 million in five years. However, the study suggests that adopting harm reduction strategies can offer a different trajectory, potentially preventing a significant loss of life in Pakistan.

Dr. Delon Human, a key contributor to the report, emphasized that relying solely on tobacco control measures is insufficient in combating the widespread cigarette epidemic. He advocated for a comprehensive approach that includes the accessibility, acceptability, and affordability of less harmful alternatives such as vaping and nicotine pouches. Additionally, proactive measures for early cancer diagnosis and treatment were highlighted.

The United Kingdom serves as a notable example of the success of harm reduction. E-cigarettes are actively recommended as a tool for adults looking to quit smoking, contributing to a remarkable drop in smoking rates from 20 percent to 12 percent in less than a decade.

Dr. Human concluded with a call to enrich tobacco control efforts with validated harm reduction strategies, stating, “Our message and recommendation are to not abandon tobacco control but enrich it with validated harm reduction strategies. Policymakers worldwide have both the moral obligation and the practical means to act. Adopting harm reduction strategies can radically rewrite the narrative, pivoting us from grim statistics to real stories of lives saved.”

Written By Web Desk

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