Scientific studies increasingly show the value of tobacco harm reduction tools such as vapes for smokers, and yet legislative bodies continue turning a blind eye to the important role they play in smoking cessation. At a time of critical decision-making around tobacco control legislation, this attitude could cost the health of many South Africans, says Asanda Gcoyi, CEO of the Vapour Products Association of South Africa.
Science is an evidence-based numbers game; the more research that’s done to prove a theory, the more the theory becomes embedded in fact and the more myths can be debunked when misinformation raises its ugly head.
For years, evidence in respect of the health risks associated with tobacco-related diseases has been overwhelming. A plethora of studies support the argument that smoking is the single biggest cause of non-communicable disease.
As recently as 45 years ago, renowned British medical professor Michael Russell noted: “It’s not the nicotine that kills smokers; it’s the delivery mechanism.” He was referring to the fact that while people smoked to satisfy their nicotine addiction, they died from the tar, and the more than 70 other carcinogenic chemicals released whenever a cigarette was lit.
But smoking is a tough habit to quit, and that’s what makes the all-important role that harm reduction has to play so critical. Coincidently, Professor Russell is known as the father of tobacco harm reduction in terms of nicotine replacement therapy.
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