Every day 1,200 people die from tobacco related cancer. Smoking tobacco is the biggest cause of preventable death in the world. There are two types of thought on how to address this problem:
Tobacco abstinence and tobacco harm reduction.
Both of these methods have their pros and cons, however in light of the recent electronic cigarettes popularity, tobacco harm reduction is gaining support from tobacco users and professionals.
Tobacco Abstinence Hypothesis
When it comes to preventing tobacco related deaths and diseases, there has always been one goal, get smokers to quit smoking, or tobacco abstinence
But there is a massive problem with this idea of abstinence. Smokers who want to quit face extremely low odds. Less than 7% of smokers this year will succeed. Of the smokers who do succeed, many risk relapsing for the rest of their life.
Nicotine is one of the most additive substances there is, if not the most addictive substance in the world. It does not help that tobacco companies adds over 601 chemicals to tobacco to make them more addictive. It is extremely difficult to keep people from smoking once they start.
But there is another theory…
Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) Hypothesis
THR splits tobacco into two parts: the harm caused by smoke and tar, and the harm caused by nicotine. Because nicotine addiction is the main problem when it comes to getting smokers to quit smoking, THR theory looks at the harm caused by nicotine itself compared to the harm caused by smoking. The good news is that nicotine is fairly safe in low doses, comparable to caffeine in effects and dangers.
So in short, THR aims to give smokers who are unable to quit smoking an alternative source of nicotine to reduce tobacco harm.
Any type of smokeless tobacco is considered a form of tobacco harm reduction because it does not involve smoke or tar. This typically includes chewing tobacco, tobacco strips-lozenges-stick-gum, and electronic cigarettes.
Nobody is going to claim these products are 100% safe, but many claim they are safer than smoking tobacco. It is another way to approach the problem, and it is gaining popularity quickly thanks to electronic cigarettes.