SCOHRE sparks discussion on harm reduction, tobacco control

SCOHRE, the International Association on Smoking Control & Harm Reduction, has organised the ‘4th Scientific Summit on Tobacco Harm Reduction: Novel products, Research & Policy’, which was held virtually on September 29-30.

The summit witnessed the participation of top researchers and scientists from around the world. It has discussed the latest scientific research, modified risk products (MRP), and heat not burn products.

Around 62 speakers from 31 countries took part in the seminar.

During multiple sessions over the course of two days, scientists and medical researchers highlighted the importance of reduced harm products as viable alternatives to traditional cigarettes and an effective method to achieve smoking cessation.

Giuseppe Biondi-Zoccai, Associate Professor in Cardiology at the Department of Medico-Surgical Sciences and Biotechnologies, said evidence supports that e-cigarettes reduce smoking and presents a substantial increase in cessation.

“E-cigarettes were shown to be superior to nicotine replacement therapy,” Biondi-Zoccai said.

The majority of the harm caused by tobacco is a result of its burning. Thus, non-combustible tobacco and nicotine containing products that do not burn have lower risk in comparison with combustible products.

In another session, Majeed Shoaib – Supervisor Aerosol Applications at Philip Morris International – presented his study which assesses the impact of aerosols from the tobacco heating system of IQOS to a pin-based heating system. Their impact was then compared to that generated from traditional combustible cigarettes.

According to Shoaib, the results of the study showed that traditional cigarette smoke caused cytotoxicity, a decrease in mitochondrial health, an increase in oxidative stress, DNA damage, apoptosis, and cell permeability, while the pin-based and IQOS heating systems showed a significantly lower impact on all of these points.

“IQOS heating systems up to 50 puffs triggered fewer biological effects than 10 puffs of traditional cigarette smoke,” Shoaib added.

Konstantinos Kesanopoulos, Biologist at Special Academic Unit for the Study of Smoking Behavior, Laboratory of Hygiene & Epidemiology, noted that Egypt is one of the countries where prevalence of smoking increased by 30-50 percent between 1990 and 2019.

In the same session, Karl E. Lund, Senior researcher in the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, echoed Kesanopoulos’ views by explaining that smoking is still a huge problem in many poor countries due to weak infrastructure for tobacco control.

To sum up, speakers and panelists had repeatedly reiterated the importance of extensive studies by the scientific community as well as the regulatory bodies to encourage research in harm reduction.

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