In a modern, enlightened world a commitment to harm reduction in the tobacco industry should be paramount. This not only applies to people who work in the industry, but to all parties, from scientists and health professionals to pressure groups and governments. All have a responsibility to ensure a regulatory and social environment in which new, safer products can reach the market.
“If nicotine could be provided in a form that is acceptable and effective as a cigarette substitute, millions of lives could be saved.”
Millions of people legally choose to consume tobacco products. Their health and safety should come first. Millions more depend on the industry for their livelihoods, including many low income workers in some of the most deprived areas of the world. The only reasonable, ethical approach is to promote and support scientific research into making products safer.
But too often this is not the case. Safer alternatives such as Snus and e-cigarettes are regularly demonized or restricted by interested parties in the so-called “tobacco wars”. Input from tobacco companies attracts the same approbation.
Recently, Chris Proctor, chief scientific officer at British American Tobacco (BAT), lamented: “Despite massive strides in external acceptance of the role our science can play in underpinning tobacco harm reduction, there remains pressureto prohibit us from contributing, as seen by the recent ban on manuscripts reporting science from tobacco companies introduced by the British Medical Journal.”