Is Better Health For Smokers Possible?
Sometimes the best decision you’ll make is to quit smoking, but it’s not always that easy. The 25 million smokers in Pakistan may know this feeling a little too well – they know the impact of smoking on their health, but still choose to smoke: the meaning of a ritual, the force of habit and the taste of nicotine which make it difficult for them to quit smoking. For those smokers who find it difficult to quit their habit, it may seem that there is no longer any hope for them to have a better lifestyle. Because besides quitting smoking, what other choice do they have? This could be part of the reason why, despite knowledge of the damage caused by cigarettes, the number of smokers is on the rise, as a recent study published in the Lancet indicates.
However, science is now on the right track to dispel these clouds of desperation for adult smokers. The real problem with cigarettes, which leads to the development of smoking-related illnesses, begins as soon as you light up a cigarette. Burning tobacco in a cigarette produces over 6,000 chemicals, leading to the development of diseases such as lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. Many people mistakenly consider nicotine to be the biggest bad thing about cigarettes. But while nicotine is addictive, scientific research corroborated by the United States FDA, Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians to name a few agree that nicotine is not the main cause of smoking-related illnesses – the main culprit is the burning of tobacco.
This means that an adult who smokes cigarettes to fill up on nicotine is involuntarily exposed to the combustion of tobacco and subsequently to the smoke that emanates from it and the damage it causes to their health. While the most recommended option for smokers is to quit, the consistent prevalence of smoking around the world shows that there is still a segment of smokers who, despite being aware of the harms of smoking, continue to smoke and expose themselves to harm. The large number of people – over a billion worldwide – who choose to continue to smoke begs the question – is there a way to reduce the harm to which they are exposed? If there is to be any hope for them to lead a better life, they must be offered alternatives to cigarettes that still meet their ritual, habits and nicotine needs, but expose their bodies to fewer toxic substances and less harm. .
If the main problem, which in this case is tobacco combustion, is taken out of the equation, studies have shown that there is more than a 95% potential for reducing the risk of exposure to toxic substances that cause disease. related to smoking.
In view of the above, science and the latest technological advancements have created alternatives that do not burn tobacco and can be used as alternatives to cigarettes for adult smokers rather than continuing to smoke.
Recognizing that alternatives that don’t burn are better than continuing to smoke, many governments are now approving and propagating that, of course, while quitting is the best option, those who cannot should at least switch to non-combustible alternatives to reduce the harm they face: In its mission to become smoke-free by 2030, the UK government has put in place a science-backed tobacco control plan that shows the positive role non-combustible alternatives contributing to higher rates of smoking cessation and their harm reduction potential for smokers than continued use of conventional cigarettes. The sharp drop from 26% to 19% in six years in the smoking rate among young adults in the UK has been attributed to non-combustible alternatives, as cigarette sales have steadily declined with the introduction of these alternatives to the market. . A similar case was reported in Japan where the decline in cigarette sales fell from 1.8 percent per year to 9.5 percent per year following the introduction of non-fuels into the market. The regulation of these alternatives in these countries and the availability of information about them have greatly helped smokers make informed decisions for their health, ensuring that they have better options than to continue to smoke.
This growing evidence of the reduced risk aspect of non-combustible alternatives and case studies from different countries present a bright future for adult smokers around the world. The question, however, is when will Pakistan bring science to its tobacco control efforts and allow its smokers to rekindle their hopes for better health.