When it comes to describes Harm Reduction, the main questions that arise are always the same. What has gone wrong in implementing Public Health policies around the world? Why exist a fierce global opposition against e-cigarettes- which could potentially curb the plague of smoking habits through safer solutions?
The answer is neither easy nor straightforward as it seems.
The latest event -“Vaping Regulation: Future Talks What’s next for Tobacco Control” – on Catania Conversation tried to find common ground and explore the motivations behind it. A conversation with some of the most authoritative voices on Harm Reduction globally.
Lack of information, unreasonable opposition by government, state interventions on Tobacco control. These are just some of the reasons why Tobacco Harm Reduction has failed in its implementation in the last several years, although the availability of safer alternatives to smoke such as e-cigarettes.
Misunderstanding and misinformation
Above all, it seems policymakers haven’t understood yet the products they are trying to regulate. Is this due to a lack of experience and expertise of journalists when reading the scientific information? Or it is for the absence of any specific office that informs them or that offers training on how to extrapolate data?
A statement reinforced by Giovanni Li Volti, Director of the Center of Excellence for the Acceleration of Harm Reduction (CoEHAR) of the University of Catania and Coordinator of the Research Project REPLICA, for whom it seems also a problem of communication between scientists and the other end of the line. “The challenge for us is to provide tools to understand scientific research to journalists and patients to deliver clear and understandable information on health issues to the society.”
Bias from governments
The rigid approach that split tobacco and consumers into two different categories, instead of considering them as a whole, has also worsened the problem instead of resolving it.
Demonize nicotine without offering any solution to smokers seems a dead-end, and limits any Public Health policies that try to ease the burden of health-related illness of smoking on national Health systems.
“The tobacco sector in electronic smoking devices have the highest rate of advancement in science and development, even more than IT sector. However, society stills see as potentially dangerous anything that comes out from the Tobacco Industry, although scientific evidence that the new generation of e-cigarettes is much safer than traditional smoking combustible”. Derek Yach, former World Health Organization cabinet director and President of Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, stated during his address.
State intervention on personal Health.
Another big issue potentially leading to a disaster is the pervasive control by authorities on Tobacco consumption without considering consumer rights. So far, the balance between the right of the individual with the social well-being has been put all into the latter, without giving any chance to consumers to decide what is in their best interest. After thirteen years since the first e-cigarette was launched people like it and are used to it, and governments must consider this when it comes to Ban and Regulation on vaping.
As Harry Shapiro – British journalist and executive editor of the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction report- suggested “people should have the chance to take care of his health outside state intervention.”