15/11/2020

For “harm reduction” approach in medicine requires an honest assessment of science and an open approach by decision makers

"We must try to initiate change, to offer less harmful alternatives to traditional cigarette smokers," said Dr. Peter Harper, founder and member of the International Association for the Study of Lung Diseases.

 Harper, who is an oncologist by profession, at a recent online panel discussion on harm reduction (Tobacco Harm Reduction), points out that he sees his struggle in cooperation with the tobacco industry because he truly believes that harm reduction is what the profession must advocate. Harper reminds that nicotine is what makes people addicted to tobacco products, but at the same time it is not what tobacco makes harmful, but tobacco smoke contains about 6000 thousand substances, of which, as he says, about 100 are known to be very toxic.

"It is this combination of compounds found in tobacco smoke, not nicotine, that can cause the most serious diseases in traditional cigarette smokers, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease," Dr. Harper emphasized at the beginning of his presentation.

 Less harmful alternatives to cigarettes, such as IQOS, a device that heats rather than burns tobacco, have been the subject of much scientific research in recent years. The results indicate that, although they are not without risk, they emit drastically less harmful substances compared to traditional cigarettes, as much as 95% less compared to the smoke of classic cigarettes. Harper claims that the science is quite clear - the level of nicotine in these products remains the same, but, as he says, the level of toxins does not, they are reduced. More or less serious images are created in pathological changes from chronic exposure to traditional cigarettes.

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