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ISLAMABAD: The government should encourage use of smoke-free or harm reduction technology as part of its tobacco control policy to achieve a massive decline in smoking rates in Pakistan. Experts told Business Recorder here on Monday that it is the combustion of tobacco (ie, cigarette smoking), rather than nicotine, which is the primary cause of smoking related diseases. Countries like the United

Kingdom are actively encouraging the use of alternate nicotine delivery products as part of its tobacco control policy, including e-cigarettes and HTPs, and have been able to achieve a massive decline in smoking rates as a result. There is consensus in scientific communities that smokeless tobacco products present less risk of disease than continuing to smoke cigarettes.

Recently, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), after years of scrutinizing the research, has also approved the marketing of particular HTPs, where these products that are commercially available can claim to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals compared to cigarette smoking.

An Oncologist and Cancer Specialist, Professor Dr. Shahid Rasul, advocating for the adoption of these reduced risk products in Pakistan said, "The US FDA's decision to authorize the marketing of an electronically heated tobacco system as a reduced risk tobacco product is truly an important milestone, and can pave the way for governments to start looking at tobacco alternatives which are scientifically substantiated as a possible third pillar of tobacco control.

Our government, and others world over, while continuing tobacco control efforts, should simultaneously provide better alternatives for the millions of smokers who cannot seem to quit the habit to at least switch to products that are scientifically proven to reduce exposure to harmful, and potentially harmful, chemicals. It is the only way we can significantly benefit public health, today."

Combustion is the process of burning something, and it requires three elements: a fuel source, like tobacco; oxygen, found in air; and enough heat to burn. During combustion, in ideal conditions, hydrocarbons and oxygen react to form carbon dioxide and water. However, in the case of cigarettes, there is not enough oxygen available for complete combustion to occur.

Incomplete combustion leads to the production of carbon monoxide and numerous other molecules, of which many have been recognized by health authorities to be harmful or potentially harmful. Some of the toxicants emitted during combustion form liquid and solid particles that, together with the rest of the emissions, result in smoke that can be harmful to health if inhaled.

Smoking a cigarette involves combustion and the generation of smoke. Millions of smokers every year decide that they don't need cigarettes in their lives and quit completely. They make the single best possible choice a smoker can make for their health: they quit tobacco and nicotine completely. Still, there are many men and women who decide that while they don't want to smoke, they do want to continue using nicotine and tobacco products.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020