‘Harm reduction at risk’

The historical opportunity offered by smoke-free alternatives to reduce the health impact of smoking is in jeopardy due to misinformation and calls for prohibition, according to Andre Calantzopoulos, CEO of Philip Morris International (PMI).

Writing in Fortune, Calantzopoulos said that thanks to rapid advances in science and technology, better alternatives now exist for adults who would otherwise continue to smoke.

However, the opportunity for trajectory-shifting progress in public health is endangered by public confusion and prohibitionist legislation.

Calantzopoulos pointed to the U.S. where recent incidents of lung illness attributed to black market THC products have been conflated with the use of unadulterated legal e-cigarettes. At the same time, media have been widely reporting on the valid concerns around the use of e-cigarettes by youth, he said.

“This combined coverage has left many men and women who smoke confused about smoke-free alternatives,” Calantzopoulos wrote.

Compounding the issue, he added, a handful of tobacco control NGOs in several countries have seized the opportunity to call for legislation that either prohibits some or all smoke-free alternatives or severely restricts smokers’ access to and ability to learn about these products.

“If regulators respond to these calls by choosing a prohibitionist route over a science-based approach, the opportunity for progress in public health may be lost,” Calantzopoulos cautioned.