Posted By Derek Yach On Tuesday, September 29, 2020 In Industry Transformation, Public Health, Blog
I recently addressed the 2020 GTNF conference on the topic of “who is getting tobacco regulation right?”. My answer was blunt: at present, very few!
If we were, we would not have eight million deaths a year from tobacco use. Nor would we have 1.3 billion people still using tobacco products, most in a toxic combustible or dangerous smokeless form. The goal of a regulator should be primarily to reduce that harm in the fastest possible time. Sadly, this isn’t the case today.
First, most governments are failing us. If you look at the number of deaths that occur every single day, and the potential to get people to switch from products that increase their risk of dying, to those that substantially lower that risk and help them quit, we should be doing all we can to act faster and more decisively.
Compare this to how quickly we are responding to COVID-19. If we took the same approach as we are with this pandemic, with a goal of stripping away the regulatory barriers to getting life-saving products into the hands of people in the safest and fastest possible way, we’d see regulators accelerate their approval processes that now take years to months. We’d see regulators give assurance to the public in communications about the relative safety of nicotine and avoid the confusion that they promote with NGOs and the media.
There have been some bright spots. The FDA’s recent approach to both General Snus and IQOS is promising, these being the first tobacco products permitted to carry a claim of reduced exposure. The European Commission’s ban on menthol in cigarettes while keeping it in harm reduction products is a good step forward. And the UK government’s approach to integrating the use of tobacco harm reduction into cessation services at the primary health care setting is exemplary and rare among countries. However, we are a long way from having consistent regulation that uses good science to reduce the use of combustible tobacco as quickly as possible.
Derek Yach – Foundation for a Smoke-Free World – September 29, 2020.