Policy Studies Harm Reduction

Tobacco Harm Reduction: Evidence Update

Key Points

It has been conclusively shown that the profile of dangerous constituents, including particulate matter, lack of carbon monoxide and HPHCs is much more favorable in e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn and snus products than cigarettes. Not surprisingly, the decrease in exposure to these constituents leads to positive health outcomes for smokers who switch.
While concerns about poor cessation outcomes for those who switch from combustibles to ANDS and e-cigarettes acting as a gateway to combustible use for those who otherwise would not smoke are valid, they are unfounded. The most recent and robust trials indicate that ANDS users are twice as successful in achieving abstinence and that e-cigarettes have not renormalized combustible cigarettes.
Placed in a broader context of comparative risk, e-cigarettes and other reduced-risk products are likely to gain much more support—to the benefit of those trying to quit combustible cigarettes, and perhaps even to those who might have otherwise gone on to smoke.

Concerns that aim to protect non-users are often more influential in driving policy changes than evidence that points to a benefit for smokers. And, this will only result in policies that aim to restrict the availability of e-cigarettes, even as it places many current smokers at the considerable risk of continued smoking. It is therefore of the utmost importance that the most recent and robust research and evidence is considered when proposing actions that may have potential to act as a harm reduction tool for both current and future smokers.

Press release: R Street Policy Study No. 179: Tobacco Harm Reduction: Evidence Update

Image credit: Nopphon_1987


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