Declaration – 4th Scientific Summit on Tobacco Harm Reduction 2021
Declaration of the 4th Scientific Summit on Tobacco Harm Reduction: Novel Products, Research and Policy by SCOHRE (29 & 30 September 2021)
- The 4th Scientific Summit on Tobacco Harm Reduction, Novel Products, Research and Policy undoubtedly proved that there is growing interest among experts in novel approaches for tobacco control, such as tobacco harm reduction, that constitute an important element of disease prevention including cancer.
- Our vision in SCHORE is to eliminate smoking and smoking-related diseases all together. If today this is not possible, we ask policy makers and regulators to try to implement reasonable interventions that focus on preventing new nicotine use, especially among youth, and to integrate harm reduction into the overall approach to reduce smoking-related diseases, and cancer. Our objective is to establish dialogue with policy experts and regulators at international, EU and national level to enable evidence-based policies and to implement regulatory approaches in favor of Harm Reduction.
- Adult smokers, who for various reasons are not able to quit smoking, need to be considered; they should not be neglected by tobacco control policies. Where cessation repeatedly fails, the use of less harmful products will have a positive effect for many smokers. Scientific evidence is currently strong enough to support that there are less harmful products alternative to combustible cigarette smoking. We also believe that existing evidence strongly indicates that Harm Reduction should be adopted as a complementary policy for tobacco control.
- Currently, following new advances in science and technology, academics, scientists, and health authorities across the world hold the opinion that there is a broad spectrum of risk amongst tobacco and nicotine containing products, with combustible cigarettes at the highest end and nicotine replacement therapies at the lowest end of that spectrum. Accordingly, most of the harm caused by tobacco results from the burning of tobacco. Non-combustible tobacco and nicotine containing products are of lower risk in comparison with combustible products and are placed close to the lower end of risk in this spectrum.
- There is growing evidence indicating that non-combustible products are less toxic and less harmful compared to cigarettes. We believe that the scientific community as well as the regulatory bodies should encourage research in Harm Reduction and closely monitor the use of novel products.
- Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, presented in February 2020, as stated, “… is the EU’s response to growing challenges and developments in cancer control and represents a political commitment to leave no stone unturned in the fight against cancer.” However, Tobacco Harm Reduction is neglected. The EU has been working on cancer for decades. Over the past years, the EU’s actions, particularly on prevention which include stronger tobacco control measures have saved and extended many lives. Still, smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable cancer, with 27% of all cancers attributed to it. In 2020, 2.7 million people in the European Union were diagnosed with cancer, and another 1.3 million people lost their lives from cancer.
- We, at SCOHRE, support ideas to further reduce smoking prevalence in Europe and believe that the EU’s strongest and most significant competence with respect to cancer is in the regulation of tobacco and nicotine products. Smoking cessation and prevention remain the most impactful and cost-effective interventions in medicine and in public health. Healthcare and public health professionals need to continuously raise awareness to every smoker and to the public about the adverse effects of smoking, the largest avoidable cause of cancer and a major contributor to cardiovascular and respiratory disease. Campaigns on prevention and cessation tools should be supported and funded across Europe. Yet, going forward, for EU policy makers working on actions to address cancer, we believe that it becomes important to consider Tobacco Harm Reduction as a complimentary tool to traditional tobacco control policies.
- We believe that augmenting the scientific evidence, including independent verification of the industry data, increased awareness at all levels, publicizing the latest scientific data, is a crucial step to really help smokers stop smoking and achieve the Beating Cancer Plan objectives.
- The values and goals of SCOHRE are summarized in its mission statement and founding declaration.