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SMOKE-FREE ALTERNATIVES:
SOME FACTS

THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION ESTIMATES THERE ARE APPROXIMATELY 1.1 BILLION SMOKERS IN THE WORLD TODAY—AND COME 2025 THE NUMBER WILL BE ROUGHLY THE SAME.

The best choice any smoker can make is to quit tobacco and nicotine altogether, but many don’t. Adults, who would otherwise continue to smoke deserve better, smoke-free alternatives enabled by science and innovation. Regulation should allow adult smokers to have access to, as well as accurate and non-misleading information about, these alternatives and how they compare with cigarettes. They are not risk-free and deliver nicotine, which is addictive. However, they can be a better choice than continued smoking if scientifically substantiated and manufactured under appropriate safety and quality controls.

As it stands today, some governments restrict access to information about them. Further compounding the issue, some tobacco control organizations refuse to consider the innovations coming from the tobacco industry as viable alternatives that governments can use to supplement existing smoking cessation and prevention measures. These together can result in a variety of misconceptions about smoke-free alternatives’ potential to reduce harm.

THE PROBLEM WITH BURNING 

Combustion occurs when a cigarette is lit, generating smoke. The smoke formed contains more than 6,000 chemicals, about 100 of which have been classified by public health authorities as harmful or potentially harmful. By eliminating the combustion, or burning process—as is the case with smoke-free products—there is no smoke and the levels of harmful chemicals generated can be significantly reduced compared with cigarette smoke. Of course, whether a product reduces emissions of harmful chemicals compared with cigarette smoke has to be scientifically assessed on a product by product basis. These products are not risk free and contain nicotine, which is addictive. 

SMOKE-FREE ALTERNATIVES ARE JUST THAT—FREE OF SMOKE 

By not burning tobacco, smoke-free products—such as heated tobacco products (HTPs), e-cigarettes and snus—don’t create smoke. HTPs generate a nicotine-containing aerosol by heating tobacco to temperatures sufficient to release nicotine and flavors from the tobacco, but low enough to prevent the tobacco from burning. E-cigarettes (also known as vapes, e-vapor products or electronic nicotine delivery systems) heat a liquid solution containing nicotine and flavors to produce an aerosol, which some call a vapor—hence the term “vaping”. 

NICOTINE IN SMOKE-FREE PRODUCTS 

HTPs and most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is one of the factors, alongside taste and ritual, that plays an important role in switching adult smokers from cigarettes to smoke-free products. In order to switch completely, smokers need to find these products acceptable substitutes for cigarettes. Nicotine, while addictive and not risk-free, is not the primary cause of smoking-related diseases. This has been recognized by many experts and institutions. Nicotine is not risk-free, and is addictive, but it isn’t the main cause of smoking related diseases. Certain people should not use products that contain nicotine. Minors should not use or have access to tobacco or nicotinecontaining products. Nicotine products should not be used by non-nicotine users. Nicotine-containing products should also not be used during pregnancy or while breast-feeding. Nicotine-containing products should not be used by people who have or are at risk of heart disease, are diabetic, are epileptic or experience seizures.

 

1 WHO global report on trends in prevalence of tobacco smoking 2000-2005, 2018

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