Leveraging science in fight against smoking

Over the last two decades, significant progress has been made in biotechnology, pharmaceutical innovation, and diagnostics, leading to the development of Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) products that meet the criteria of reducing the harmful effects of smoking. Just as the automotive industry is shifting towards electric vehicles to reduce harmful emissions from conventional cars, THR products such as vapes, oral nicotine pouches and heated tobacco products represent a technological advancement aimed at minimizing the harms of smoking.

According to a recently published global report titled “Integrating Harm Reduction into Tobacco Control,” THR products lower toxic exposures by 80% and reduce smoking-related causes of premature death by 70%. In the US, the prevalence of smoking decreased by 45% from 2005 to 2021. As between 2007 and 2015, over three million adult smokers used THR products to reduce harm.

With 25.4 million regular smokers in Pakistan, the need for effective harm reduction strategies is critical. It is essential to incorporate THR education into the curricula of medical and nursing schools in Pakistan to prepare future healthcare providers. Educating healthcare professionals about the benefits and risks of THR products will enable them to offer informed advice to smokers.

Moreover, creating and supporting networks of healthcare professionals who are knowledgeable about THR is crucial as these networks can facilitate continuous professional development for healthcare providers while enabling them to stay updated on the latest research and advancements in harm reduction. Professional associations and health organizations should organize events to facilitate collaboration and effective strategies for THR.

By leveraging research, technological advancements, and global best practices, Pakistan can reduce the burden of smoking-related diseases and contribute to the global effort in Tobacco Harm Reduction.

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