The Foundation for Consumer Freedom and Advancement (FCFA) and the Institute of Liberty, Policy and Innovation (ILAPI) have encouraged regulatory agencies, tobacco controllers and public health institutions to embrace tobacco harm reduction as part of tobacco control strategies.
The statement issued by ILAPI at a press conference in Tema, attended by journalists and editors, and a webinar which featured experts in public health policy and consumer advocates enable discussions on the tobacco harm reduction (THR) strategies deployed across the 59 countries evaluated in the index titled “Effective Anti-smoking Policies Global Index.
Findings from the global index show that embracing tobacco harm reduction strategies through the use of reduced-risk alternatives, such as non-combustible, smokeless tobacco or nicotine products, is critical to prevent the majority of the harm associated with smoking.
“The most up-to-date scientific evidence indicates that reduced-risk alternative products are the most effective method to quit smoking and avoid most of the health harms associated with smoking. For many decades, we have been aware of the dangers of smoking. We’ve known for a long time that it’s the smoke from combustion, not the nicotine, that’s to blame. We also know that we can distribute nicotine in low-risk methods.” said Peter Bismark Kwofie, the Executive Director, of ILAPI.
Countries such as the United Kingdom, Sweden, New Zealand, Japan, and Norway have successfully implemented THR approaches and Ghana can learn from their policies and frameworks to tailor its policies on tobacco control to the unique needs of its population.
As a consequence, Sweden has by far the lowest rates of tobacco-related morbidity and mortality in the European Union. Their smoking rates have declined to a level that they are on their way to officially becoming the first smoke-free country in the world. When Norway made snus products more broadly accessible, cigarette consumption dropped by half in ten years, Bismark added.
For decades, Ghana has tried to curb smoking through packaging education and taxation with limited success. Reductions in smoking prevalence had generally slowed, with modest annual declines but a lot more can be achieved.
In response to the opportunities that can be provided through Tobacco Harm Reduction, the Ghanaian government should establish a regulatory framework that enables and facilitates access to THR products, support public education campaigns to raise awareness about the beneﬁts of THR, increase the availability of THR products across the country, establish Nicotine Replacement Therapy programs, collaborate with private sector stakeholders, and conduct research and monitoring to evaluate the effectiveness of THR policies and frameworks.
The positive results of embracing tobacco harm reduction are clear. Reductions to smoking prevalence in Ghana could be accelerated through balanced policy and clear messaging to smokers.