Knowledge-Action-Change (KAC), a company dedicated to the promotion of tobacco harm reduction (THR) to improve health, has published Tobacco Harm Reduction: A Burning Issue for Asia.
THR allows people to quit smoking or using oral smokeless tobacco by switching to safer nicotine products. Compared to smoking or smokeless tobacco, vaping devices, heated-tobacco products (HTP) and pasteurized oral products enable people to continue using nicotine at a fraction of the risk, according to KAC. The new briefing shows that Asia has been at the forefront of several key THR successes. The first vaping device was developed by a Chinese scientist. In Japan, cigarette sales have slumped by 32 percent since the introduction of HTP.
Yet many governments in Asia have limited or prohibited people’s access to safer nicotine products while deadly cigarettes and oral smokeless tobacco remain freely on sale. Tobacco Harm Reduction: A Burning Issue for Asia explores the obstacles to THR in the region, including the role of significant state involvement or ownership of tobacco companies, the misinformation campaign against safer nicotine products from apparently credible international agencies and the influence of U.S.-led philanthropic funding on domestic policymaking around tobacco and nicotine.
The report reveals the huge disparity between the number of smokers in Asia at 743 million and the number who have switched to vaping. Research carried out for the report estimates there are 19 million people using vaping products in Asia in 2021—meaning there are 39 smokers for every vaper in the region. They authors argue tobacco harm reduction must be scaled up—and fast.
“Tobacco harm reduction is truly a burning issue for Asia. Many of Asia’s millions of smoking-related deaths are preventable—if only consumers had access to safer nicotine products. Unfortunately, the failing WHO FCTC and a barrage of misinformation and anti-THR propaganda is getting in the way of public health progress in the region,” said report author Harry Shapiro ahead of the launch.
Tobacco Harm Reduction: A Burning Issue for Asia is part of KAC’s Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction, a project established to map the development of tobacco harm reduction and the use, availability and regulatory responses to safer nicotine products around the world. The project was produced with the help of a grant from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World.