Cigarette smokers have been advised to switch to the less harmful Modified Risk Tobacco Products (MRTP) in order to live healthier.
The Vice President of Strategic and Scientific Communications at Philip Morris International, Ms. Moira Gilchrist, gave the advice at a Global Tobacco & Nicotine Forum (GTNF) virtual conference.
The GTNF conference identified combustible cigarettes as a main cause of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases that trigger other health risks for active and passive smokers in the last 30 years.
Gilchrist, however, explained that new innovations such as the IQOS tobacco heating system with reduced exposure and the oral tobacco heated snus have disrupted the tobacco ecosystem.
She said the MRTP, for the first time, received the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to its reduced exposure claims in the U.S, adding that it’s a really important precedent for demonstrating to everybody that not all tobacco products are the same in 2020.
Ms. Gilchrist who said the PMI has scientifically known this fact for many years now as it was building the evidence package for IQOS expressed delight that the FDA went through the rigorous process of reviewing all of PMI’s science and came to the decision to grant the orders.
The PMI Vice President advised countries all over the world to look at the steps and actions taken by the United States’ FDA to review their own tobacco control policy in order to bring better products as well as provide choices less harmful to smokers.
She encouraged those involved in the regulation or policy-making for innovative new alternatives to cigarettes to think about the policies that are in place in their respective countries so as to determine whether those policies clearly differentiate between the most harmful form of nicotine consumption, which is through cigarettes, that should unquestionably be subjected to strict regulation or the better alternatives that are shown by science to reduce people’s exposure to harmful chemicals.
She said the choices must by made clear between the harmful practice of nicotine smoking compared with the science based alternative cigarate that reduces the risk in other ways.
Emphasising that policy makers should think carefully about how their regulations distinguish between those two, Gilchrist said how can a person who smokes makes a better choice if he or she doesn’t know the product exists.
She added that it is only through provision of truthful information and access to products that I believe we can really have a measurable impact on public health in a very short space of time.
Ms. Gilchrist noted that science and recent surveys have provided evidence that tobacco harm reduction could substantially contribute to ending smoking habit eventually.
The tobacco harm reduction concept, according to her, includes lowering nicotine addiction, preventing usage in youth, lowering health problems and mortality rate that occurs as a result of smoking combustible cigarettes and overtime total withdrawal from usage.
On how smokers around the world should respond to the less harmful modified risk tobacco products, Gilchrist advised that they switch from combustible cigarettes to better choices backed by science like IQOS.
“I think what smokers can do is to inform themselves about the products, the better choices that exist today. They should make a better choice than continuing to smoke if they are not willing to quit, she said.
Ms Gilchrist who reiterated the PMI’s position that these products are not a replacement for quitting, stressed that the best thing any person who smokes can do is to quit.
She however noted the fact that the vast majority of smokers in any country in any given year do not quit, saying they should arm themselves with information about the better choices that exist today, especially ones that are backed up by science like IQOS which makes it imperative that “they should switch completely as quickly as possible.”
She said her company, PMI, was committed to a smoke-free world, adding that their main objective is to help people to move away from cigarettes.
“One of the quickest and most effective solutions to reach the overall goal of reducing noncommunicable diseases would be to switch from conventional tobacco products to less harmful products like smoke-free products,” she said.