Don t ignore tobacco harm reduction this year

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Because of the fresh start afforded by the new year, it s a good bet that more than a few of the 70 percent of American smokers who would like to quit will give it a go. However, according to a recent CDC study, only one in 10 of those would-be quitters will actually succeed. So, while we were happy to see that The Baltimore Sun s interview with the director of a smoking cessation program was picked up by several media outlets, we were disappointed to learn that the certified tobacco treatment specialist mentioned just about every cessation option there is except tobacco harm reduction.

ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross, who is particularly unhappy about the continued dearth of publicity for tobacco harm reduction, points to the documented decrease in smoking and smoking-related diseases in countries that permit and promote smokeless tobacco products such as snus (finely milled tobacco contained in small sachets that are inserted between the lip and the gum). Smokers trying to quit have also reported significant success with the electronic cigarette, which allows them to inhale a dose of nicotine without the carcinogenic products of tobacco combustion. Unfortunately, a 2011 study in the Harm Reduction Journal reported that smokers remain largely misinformed about the relative safety of these products compared to cigarettes.

In our ongoing effort to let people know about the real benefits of tobacco harm reduction, we point you in the direction of two ACSH publications on the topic: Helping Smokers Quit: The Science Behind Tobacco Harm Reduction (forthcoming), and Cigarettes: What the Warning Label Doesn t Tell You.