Scientist Advocates For Using Evidence-Based Strategies For Reducing Tobacco Harm On World Vaping Day

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Dr. Akinwande Puddicombe, a Scientific Engagement Manager at British American Tobacco West & Central Africa, has urged the implementation of evidence-based Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) strategies as a key approach to addressing smoking in Nigeria.

As a proponent of public health, Puddicombe emphasized the critical importance of concerted action in realizing Nigeria’s goals for a future free of smoking.

In a statement released to our correspondent to mark World Vape Day, Puddicombe highlighted the essential role of evidence-based policies in promoting behavioral changes among consumers while upholding safety standards.

Wakadaily reported that, World Vape Day, observed annually on May 30, serves to raise awareness about the potential advantages of vaping as a harm reduction tool for smokers.

The scientist underscored the necessity of debunking misconceptions surrounding the safety of alternative tobacco products relative to traditional cigarettes, advocating for enhanced public awareness and education.

Drawing parallels with successful THR initiatives in countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Japan, Puddicombe emphasized the significant potential of smokeless alternatives in diminishing smoking prevalence.

Despite the challenges faced by Nigeria in accessing smokeless alternatives, Puddicombe expressed optimism regarding the country’s capacity to embrace THR solutions.

He affirmed British American Tobacco’s (BAT) commitment to developing innovative, scientifically validated products, recognizing the industry’s role in promoting THR advancements.

Moreover, the scientist stressed the importance of inclusive discussions with policymakers and healthcare practitioners to drive meaningful transformations.

Encouraging stakeholders to prioritize THR as a pathway to enhancing public health outcomes in Nigeria and beyond, Puddicombe emphasized the necessity for collaborative endeavors to realize a smoke-free future.

He added, “With renewed attention to smoking and vaping regulations around the world, now is the time for action to realise Nigeria’s smoke-free ambitions. Achieving this vision requires a collective consensus on an effective approach to creating sustained and lasting changes to consumer behaviour – Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR).

“THR represents one of the greatest public health opportunities today, providing a pathway for millions of smokers who would not otherwise quit, to transition from combustible tobacco products to smokeless alternatives.

“Countries that have recognised the opportunity THR presents and adopted supportive policies have seen striking success in reducing their smoking rates. The US, UK, and Japan are witnessing their lowest smoking rates on record, while Sweden is on track to declare itself smoke-free this year – defined as having fewer than 5 per cent of daily smokers in the population – 16 years ahead of the 2040 EU target.

“These remarkable transformations have been driven by widespread THR acceptance from policymakers, regulators, health officials, and consumers, enabling and encouraging smokers to migrate from combustible tobacco products such as cigarettes to vapour, oral nicotine pouches, snus, and heated tobacco or herbal products.

“To fully realise the public health potential of THR, regulators in Nigeria should embrace evidence-based science to drive positive public health outcomes.

“This means implementing a supportive regulatory framework that encourages adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke, to switch, while protecting consumers with the right safety standards and preventing underage access.”

On the role of government, Puddicombe stated, “The success of THR in Nigeria also depends on governments and regulators correcting persistent misperceptions that these alternative products are more harmful compared to cigarettes.

“These misperceptions are not only flawed but also have significant implications for public health by actively discouraging smokers from making the switch to smokeless products.

“Greater efforts are needed to counter these misperceptions – an area that BAT is trying to tackle. As the world’s largest vapour company and a leader in smoking alternative products, BAT is committed to producing innovative products backed by world-class science and industry-leading product safety and quality standards.

“The Company’s THR approach is based on a growing body of research and a weight-of-evidence approach that substantiates our belief in the reduced risk profile of these products compared to cigarettes, which have been accepted by many international public health bodies.

“BAT publishes its science research to increase understanding of THR and raise awareness with stakeholders.
Indeed, the industry developing and producing these products has a critical role to play. But to achieve the conditions required to make a success of THR, an inclusive, open, and honest dialogue with all stakeholders is required. That includes policymakers, regulators, and the healthcare and medical communities. Unfortunately, this is not yet the case, with the industry all too often excluded.

“There is an opportunity to usher in a new smokeless world, grounded in scientific research and a firm commitment to public health. The solutions are available today. All that is required is for the relevant stakeholders to actively work together to prioritise THR and the well-being of millions of people worldwide.”

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