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want to read more about

tobacco harm reduction(THR)?

What is

tobacco harm reduction?

Tobacco harm reduction is a policy or strategy for tobacco users who cannot or will not stop, which explicitly includes the continued use of tobacco or of harm reduction interventions could include using potentially reduced- exposure products (PREPs), reducing consumption, switching to long-term nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), switching to smokeless tobacco products, and using replacement products for temporary abstinence.


The premise behind these strategies is that dependence on nicotine is the critical factor underpinning most tobacco use. However, it is not the nicotine that causes most of the harm but rather some of the other 4000 constituents of cigarette smoke, of which 60 are known carcinogens. Drawing an analogy with illicit drug use, the cigarette is the equivalent of the ‘dirty syringe’. Consideration therefore needs to be given to separating the drug from the delivery system. The switching some or all cigarette use to other, less harmful nicotine delivery systems.


What is

harm reduction?

It therefore recognises that there will probably always be people who engage in activities that involve risk.

In democratic societies, there are often trade-offs to be made. In this regard, harm reduction is a significant public health alternative to outright prohibitions and bans.

Below are several examples:

  • The use of condoms and other preventive measures for dealing with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases;
  • Needle exchange programmes to minimise the spread of HIV/AIDS and reduce disease and deaths for drug users;
  • Availability of foods low in fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar (rather than seeking an outright prohibition or mandated reduction in these elements);
  • Sex education for adolescents and condom distribution in schools to reduce teen pregnancies, rather than relying on abstinence as the only solution;
  • Requiring the use of seatbelts and other safety requirements in motor vehicles;
  • Having motorcycle helmet laws to reduce the severity of head injuries.