Experts have called for tobacco manufactures to develop safer solutions for people living in poor countries who constitute the majority of smokers.
Speaking at the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum held virtually last week, the experts also implored governments to embark on evidence-based policy making in order to reduce the number of smokers worldwide.
“I would like to use this platform to request manufacturers to focus on developing safer solutions for people living in (low-to medium income countries) LMICs, will account for 80% of the world’s tobacco users, and who would benefit the most from risk reduction, given that they have mere means to deal with the consequences of tobacco use,” Indian tobacco harm reduction expert, Samrat Chowdhery, said.
Tobacco is a main revenue earner for southern African countries such as Zimbabwe and Malawi. The majority of farm workers in the two countries smoke untreated tobacco, which has grave health consequences.
Laura Leigh Oyler, a regulator at a US company said nicotine was, by and large, a drug that poor people use primarily in the form of cigarettes and called for policies that purposely marginalize and stigmatise smokers.
The experts noted that although the World Health Organisation has been promoting anti-smoking messages, research has actually shown that few smokers are quitting smoking, or transitioning to e-cigarettes that are nicotine free.
But another tobacco harm reduction expert, James Glassman said it was possible to get smokers to switch to less harmful practices, and eventually in many cases, quit tobacco altogether.
“Certainly, new technology is not the only means to ending smoking,” Glassman said. —Newsday