COP10: Promote Tobacco Harm Reduction

Posted 7th February 2024 by Dave Cross
 COP10: Promote Tobacco Harm Reduction lead image
With the EU unveiling its comprehensive cancer strategy and the 10th Conference of the Parties on Tobacco Control (FCTC COP10) taking place in Panama, Smoke Free Sweden is calling on public health officials and policymakers to recognise the concept of tobacco harm reduction.

The Swedish success story, which has seen the Nordic country reduce smoking to the point of almost becoming smoke free, with smoking rates of just 5.6 per cent, is the clearest example yet of tobacco harm reduction in practice and should serve as a blueprint for the rest of Europe and beyond.

Smoke Free Sweden is advocating for the integration of tobacco harm reduction into the fabric of the decision-making process of COP10 and Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, highlighting the Swedish model’s success in significantly lowering smoking rates and, consequently, tobacco-related deaths, which are 44% lower than the EU average. 

For the EU’s ambitious Beating Cancer Plan to be successful, policymakers must adopt a Swedish approach, including the endorsement of safer nicotine alternatives, to enhance the efficacy of its cancer prevention efforts. 

Meanwhile the WHO reported last month that there are 1.25 billion smokers worldwide, the majority of whom live in low and middle income countries. These countries in particular could benefit from the lessons of Sweden’s experience.

Commenting at the start of COP10 proceedings and calling for a strategic shift, Dr. Delon Human, leader of the Smoke Free Sweden initiative and former Health Advisor to three WHO Directors-General said: “With the world watching both Europe and the WHO right now, we face a stark choice: continue down the traditional path with limited success or embrace the full spectrum of public health strategies, including tobacco harm reduction, which has been markedly absent from COP discussions. 

Zoovoo

“Sweden's trailblazing journey to the lowest rates of tobacco-related cancers across the European Union is a testament to what's possible when harm reduction is placed at the forefront of public health initiatives. The Swedish experience is the gold standard and policymakers have a responsibility to learn its lessons to save lives." 

Smoke Free Sweden is a campaign which encourages other countries to follow the Swedish model when it comes to Tobacco Harm Reduction. Sweden is about to become the first ‘smoke-free’ European country, with a smoking rate of below 5 percent. This remarkable achievement can be attributed to Sweden’s open attitude towards alternative products.

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 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, salad destroyer and live culture convert.
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