What is tobacco harm reduction?

By: Pegeen Maisie Sararana - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | March 04,2023 - 07:14 AM

| Ascra Consulting Inc.

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Smoking cessation in several Filipino tobacco users remains a daunting challenge.

Based on the data from the Global Adult Tobacco 2021 Survey, of the 15.1 million adult tobacco users in the Philippines, 63.7 percent planned to quit smoking but only 3.9 percent were able to successfully kick the habit in the past 12 months.

That is why, there is a need to strengthen the campaign on Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR), highlighting the bad effects of combustible cigarettes on the human body and considering alternatives that could help a smoker quit smoking successfully,  said Joze Songsong, project coordinator of Ascra Consulting Inc., during a forum held last February 28.

READ: A victory for tobacco, a defeat for our children

“The PH is still largely dependent on asking people to quit cold turkey. There is so much room to explore the various ways of mitigating the harm caused by tobacco, especially by providing less-risky alternatives to smokers who want to quit smoking but can’t do so,” Songsong said.

“There is no single way to curb the negative effects of cigarette smoking whether it will be asking them to quit cold turkey or introducing risk alternatives to them. The best way to do that is to marry all the approaches that we have and not just rely on one singular tactic,” he added.

Ascra Consulting Inc. conducts and disseminates research regarding cessation and tobacco harm reduction policies in the Philippines.

THR, on the other hand, is a public health strategy that aims to introduce regulated alternatives or safer nicotine products such as e-cigarettes or vaping products, heated tobacco products, snus and US smokeless, and nicotine replacement therapy such as patches, gums, lozenges, sprays, and inhalers.

READ:  Wrong information deters smokers from switching to better alternatives

Quoting the study from the Harm Reduction Alliance of the Philippines (HARAP), Songsong said that this study showed that vaping or the use of electronic cigarettes is less harmful than smoking and can be considered an effective harm-reduction tool to quit smoking.

“If THR is properly communicated to the public, it can educate them and provide them a deeper understanding of how different types of safer nicotine products especially e-cigarettes can be used to protect the smokers’ health and lessen the risk they have acquired from using tobacco,” Francine Ciasico, communications officer of ASCRA Consulting Inc added.

Further, they considered the recent passing of Republic Act 11900 an advantage in their campaign on Tobacco Harm Reduction since this law encourages more research and regulations into alternatives to smoking; provides Filipinos the choice on how they could best mitigate the harmful effects of smoking, and lastly to attain better success in smoking cessation.   /rcg


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