2nd Scientific Summit’s Declaration

May 31, 2019

At the 2nd Scientific Summit’s conclusion on Thursday May 30, the Organising Committee members drafted and signed a Declaration entitled “Quitting smoking is one of the most effective public health measures and tobacco harm reduction can supplement tobacco control” for the celebration of the World No Tobacco Day, May 31st. The Declaration, taking into account data and presentations at the Summit, has been communicated to all speakers for them to approve and sign –several already have.

Read the full text of the Declaration

Declaration: Quitting smoking is one of the most effective public health measures and tobacco harm reduction can supplement tobacco control

Despite knowing the adverse health effects of smoking for decades, still more than 1 billion people are smokers globally and more than 7 million die prematurely every year from smoking-related disease. In the modern era of accelerating progress and technological innovation, smoking cessation remains one of the most impactful and cost effective interventions in medicine. Healthcare and public health professionals need to continuously raise awareness to every smoker and to the population as a whole about the adverse effects of smoking. Additionally, there is a need to provide as many and effective tools to smokers so that they can quit as soon as possible.

In recent years, tobacco harm reduction has been one of the most timely, intense and controversial debates in public health. One concern is the active participation of the tobacco industry in marketing these products as well as concerns over the continuous use of, and dependence on, nicotine and potential adoption of use by never smokers and youth. Harm reduction has been adopted in many aspects of medicine, public health and daily life. Evidence is mounting on the smoking cessation efficacy of tobacco harm reduction products such as Swedish type oral tobacco (snus) and e-cigarettes. Additionally, innovative non-combustible tobacco products are continuously being developed, which could be attractive to more smokers and may help them substitute for smoking. Increasing evidence supports the lower harm potential of these products. While quitting smoking without the use of any alternative product or with approved medications and psychological support remain valuable options, we acknowledge that these methods are unpopular and ineffective for many smokers. While the use of tobacco harm reduction products often (but not always) results in perpetuating nicotine use, its effects are minimal compared to continuing to smoke conventional cigarettes.

Considering the devastating health and social effects of smoking and while acknowledging the need for long-term epidemiological studies to accurately quantify the relative risk, we consider that tobacco harm reduction products could represent a viable option for smokers unwilling or unable to quit with other methods. A regulatory framework, adopting a risk-proportionate approach, providing balanced information and education to the population and offering a differentiation and a competitive advantage for harm reduction products contrary to tobacco cigarettes could maximize benefits and minimize potential adverse public health effects. Continuing to smoke conventional cigarettes represents the worst possible option for a smoker. Tobacco harm reduction can supplement all other tobacco control measures as an additional tool in reducing smoking prevalence.

The 2nd Scientific Summit Organising Committee

Demetrios Kouretas, Konstantinos Poulas, Anastasia Barbouni, and Ignatios Ikonomidis