It is a proven and well-documented fact that cigarette smoking is harmful. Tobacco harm reduction (THR) refers to public health strategies and policies that aim to reduce the health risks associated with smoking through measures that focus on reducing smoking rates by advocating the use of other nicotine-containing products.
The majority of harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke comes from burning. When a cigarette is lit, it sets off the combustion process. And when a cigarette burns, it produces smoke, which contains a mixture of over 6,000 chemicals, including nicotine. Around 100 of these chemicals in smoke have been identified as harmful, and studies show that these are the causes or potential causes of smoking-related diseases such as emphysema, lung cancer, and cardiovascular disease. By eliminating combustion, the levels of harmful chemicals – and health risks associated with smoking – are reduced.
Nicotine is one of the reasons people choose to smoke. While addictive and not risk-free, nicotine by itself is not very harmful and is not the main cause of smoking-related diseases.
Nicotine is a naturally occurring substance found in many plants, including tobacco. When tobacco is burned, nicotine is transferred into the smoke – this is one of the reasons why people smoke. However, it is possible to generate a nicotine-containing aerosol without burning tobacco and producing smoke. Smoke-free products do exactly this.
Smoke-free alternatives like e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products remove combustion from the process. These products do not burn tobacco and don’t create smoke. Instead, they generate aerosols that contain lower levels of harmful chemicals compared to cigarette smoke.
E-cigarettes use a liquid solution (commonly referred to as ‘e-liquids’) which generate an aerosol through the process of heating. E-cigarette liquids usually contain nicotine, but they do not contain tobacco.
Heated tobacco products – also known as heat-not-burn – heat tobacco to temperatures sufficient to release nicotine but low enough to prevent the tobacco from burning. It also generates an aerosol that contain nicotine.
No. E-cigarettes and heated tobacco do not generate smoke. Instead these products emit an aerosol, which is a suspension of fine solid or liquid particles in gas (usually air).
Snoke is also an aerosol, but the composition of the aerosols in smoke is very different from those emitted by smoke-free products like e-cigarettes and heated tobacco – cigarette smoke contains thousands of chemicals, around 100 of which are harmful or potentially harmful.
Smoke-free alternatives are not risk-free, but by eliminating burning, these products generate fewer and lower levels of harmful chemicals, and the risks associated with continued cigarette use are likewise reduced.
Quitting smoking and nicotine altogether is the best and healthiest option, but for those who choose to continue smoking, smoke-free alternatives present a better option.
Yes. While the best thing for smokers to do is to quit tobacco and nicotine entirely, smoke-free alternatives present a better choice for those who continue to smoke.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), smoking rates declined 4.1% between 2005 and 2015. Yet despite government regulation and public health policies, the WHO still estimates that there will still be over 1 billion smokers in 2025, around the same number as today.
According to an independent study conducted by researchers working for the American Cancer Society, cigarette sales in Japan declined following the introduction of heated tobacco products. (source: https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/29/4/381)