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Embrace THR To Quit For Good

Quit For Good, a non-profit organisation promoting harm reduction in the Philippines, wants to see focus on helping adult smokers who deserve better alternatives to cigarettes

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Quit For Good, a non-profit organisation promoting harm reduction in the Philippines, wants to see the FDA and WHO focus on helping adult smokers who deserve better alternatives to cigarettes. It lauded the United States' intensified campaign on preventing the youth from consuming nicotine products but said, “balanced policy will protect the youth and help adult smokers at the same time”.

"The Food and Drug Administration's Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) should strike a balance between protecting the youth while giving adult smokers access to far less harmful, smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes such as vapes, heated tobacco, and nicotine pouches," said Dr Lorenzo Mata Jr., president of Quit for Good, in response to the speech of CTP Director Dr Brian King at the recent Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum (GTNF) in Seoul.

King had said: “We're now down to 11.5 percent among U.S. adults, which is remarkable, and I hope that we continue to see those declines, given that we do know that combustible smoking is responsible for the overwhelming burden of death and disease from tobacco.”

Dr King confirmed, however, that the U.S. government continues to spend a considerable amount of money to the tune of $600 billion a year to address the direct healthcare costs and lost productivity because of smoking.

There is also a financial benefit for us to continue to focus on reducing combustible use in the United States, which is why we are currently pushing forward hard on various product standards and other efforts to ensure that we are able to do that in a meaningful way.”

Dr Mata responded that despite the CTP's acknowledgment that combustible cigarettes are to blame for many of the preventable diseases in the U.S., it continues to impose strict regulations on smoke-free alternatives that will significantly reduce the positive impact on health and lower healthcare expenses by the Federal government.

Science supports tobacco harm reduction, which can save smokers' lives.  While the FDA has taken an independent policy from the World Health Organization which continues to demonise these innovative products, it is time for the US to make a significant stride against smoking by promoting, instead of restricting, these products as alternatives to cigarettes. This is what the UK does,” Dr Mata pointed out.

Dr Mata added that while US regulators have legitimate concerns over youth vaping, proper regulation and enforcement, instead of restriction, would address the situation. 

A balanced policy will protect the youth and help adult smokers at the same time,” he said.

The CTP, a young office under the FDA, is working on foundational rules at present. 

We're focusing on combustibles because again we know those are responsible for the overwhelming burden of death and disease,” Dr King said.

As we've announced, the intent is to focus on cigarettes and certain other combustibles, given the known risks related to those products, and we anticipate that that will follow in the coming months once the other product standards are finalised.

Right now, we have the ability to regulate all products containing nicotine regardless of the source, and that is thanks to a new law that Congress passed in 2022. We have been working feverishly over the past year to ensure that we are able to fold in those synthetic nicotine products into our portfolio of regulation.”

Dr King, an epidemiologist, agreed that science should support CTP's decisions: “As I noted earlier, we also continue to fold in the non-tobacco nicotine work into our broader portfolio around regulation.”

He noted that the number of children using e-cigarettes in the U.S. has decreased by half since 2019.

We're now seeing about half the number of kids currently using e-cigarettes as we did at that peak in 2019, which is a good thing. And I hope to continue to see that proceed forward. But on balance, we also have over 2 million kids using these products, and there's still room to go in terms of reducing that use.”

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Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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