Model country for tobacco harm reduction
R Street Institute, a non-profit public policy research organization, conducted a study September last year on the differences in the tobacco control policies between the United Kingdom and Thailand.
The UK is recognized as an exceptional example of tobacco use surveillance and monitoring as it measures smoking prevalence and demographics annually via nationally representative surveys, while Thailand has implemented many tobacco control policies supported by international public health organizations, including the WHO.
The study showed that the UK saw a faster decrease in smoking rate from 20 percent in 2011 to 15 percent in 2018, compared to Thailand’s smoking rate decline from 21 percent in 2011 to 19 percent in 2017.
R Street Institute said the availability of ENDS such as e-cigarettes and HTPs in the UK offers a plausible explanation as to why its smoking rate was lower than in Thailand, where similar products are banned. E-cigarettes are considered to be 95 percent less harmful compared to combustible cigarettes.
It concluded that UK’s approach to cessation, which endorses harm reduction through the use of safer alternatives to combustible cigarettes, stands in contrast to Thailand’s policy of banning e-cigarettes and messaging against their use. The UK’s approach is likely the differentiating factor that lowered the smoking rates in the country.