A smoke-free future is a long-held goal of health agencies and all the countries that have been trying to curb the smoking epidemic. However, for a billion smokers from around the world to quit cigarettes completely, while some traditional tobacco control methods can help, access to alternatives have the potential to drive significant switch from cigarettes. Many of these alternatives already exist and only require sensible regulation and informed consumers for them to flourish.
Some of these alternatives include vapes, e-cigarettes, and heated tobacco products (HTPs) that pose less risk to health because they do not involve combustion. Nicotine pouches, patches, and snus are also considered to be low risk since they contain no tobacco and consist mainly of cellulose.
Realizing the potential of scientifically substantiated smoke-free alternatives in reducing harm caused by smoking, England’s Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has published a new report, The Alternative Smoke-Free 2030 Plan, citing that alternative nicotine products are far less harmful than cigarettes, and the surge in vaping has corresponded with a falling smoking rate. The IEA has also proposed to prioritise alternatives to smoking, like e-cigarettes, HTPs and snus, over prohibitionist policies.
The report also stresses that removing barriers to consumers accessing low risk alternatives is vital and smokers should be encouraged to quit by properly regulating other low-risk tobacco alternatives such as snus, heated tobacco and nicotine pouches.
With better education and a regulatory system that fosters innovation, smoking may one day become genuinely obsolete.