Why PMI supports certified medical education on tobacco harm reduction 

      At Philip Morris International (PMI), we believe that a science-based education on the topic of tobacco harm reduction (THR) is vital to improve public health. This is why we support certified medical education (CME) for healthcare professionals in the area of THR through educational grants. Many healthcare professionals face a gap in knowledge about THR and about the science on smoke-free alternatives which makes harm reduction a reality, and CME can serve to fill this gap. Discover why PMI supports CME, its importance in keeping healthcare professionals informed about the scientific evidence on the risk profiles of nicotine and smoke-free products relative to cigarettes.

      Many healthcare professionals face a gap in knowledge on tobacco harm reduction 

      Tobacco harm reduction is a public health strategy that aims to reduce the harms associated with smoking. Part of this strategy involves making scientifically substantiated less harmful smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes available to adult smokers, as well as ensuring they have accurate and non-misleading information about these products. These products, such as e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn products, and snus do not burn tobacco. They provide nicotine without the high levels of harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke. THR is based on the scientific evidence that shows that the majority of smoking-related diseases are caused by chronic exposure to high levels of harmful chemicals in smoke generated by combusting tobacco, rather than nicotine itself. For an adult who smokes, switching from cigarettes to smoke-free products can significantly lower their exposure to harmful chemicals and has the potential to reduce the risk of smoking-related disease compared with those who continue to smoke. 

      However, despite the growing body of research that supports THR, many healthcare professionals are still unaware of or misinformed about the potential benefits of smoke-free products compared to continued smoking. This is partly due to the lack of distinction between cigarettes, nicotine, tobacco, and smoking and the lack of adequate and accessible education on the topic, as well as the influence of groups that take a zero-tolerance stance with respect to tobacco and nicotine use, regardless of the relative risk. For instance, around 80% of doctors surveyed believe that nicotine causes cancer, respiratory disease, and heart disease. The fact is that it’s exposure to many of the other, harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke that leads to these diseases. While specialists were more likely to know that nicotine was not a cause for a disease for which they have expertise, general practitioners and family doctors were more likely to incorrectly identify nicotine as a cause.

      This gap in knowledge and awareness, particularly within the scientific and medical community, can have serious consequences on public health as a result. One way that medical professionals can combat this knowledge gap is by participating in CME activities.


      What is certified medical education? 

      CME is a form of continuing education that helps healthcare professionals maintain their competence and learn about new and developing areas of their field. CME activities are designed to enhance the knowledge, skills, and performance of the healthcare workforce and improve the quality of care and patient outcomes. CME providers are accredited by various organizations that ensure the quality and integrity of educational content and delivery. 

      PMI provides educational grants for science-based programs that are run independently from PMI and follow accreditation standards, including independent third-party academic review. Funding is clearly indicated and attributes support from PMI for the purpose of transparency. PMI does not have editorial control over the content of the supported CMEs, which are developed by independent organizations having the expertise in the development of CME programs and in general are running these types of programs.

      Whether it’s the device industry, pharmaceutical industry, or even the tobacco industry, it’s important for CME to be funded so that medical professionals can stay up to date on the latest advancements, medical treatments, and science.  

      What certified medical education topics does PMI support? 

      At PMI, we believe that transparency, constructive scientific debate, and evidence-based regulation are important. Therefore, it is critically as important that healthcare professionals, as well as regulators and society in general, have access to accurate and balanced information about tobacco harm reduction and the available science behind smoke-free alternatives. As a leading manufacturer of smoke-free products, we have a responsibility to contribute to the advancement of knowledge and public awareness on THR, and to do it ethically, transparently, and with scientific integrity. That is why we provide financial support for various educational initiatives that aim to disseminate credible and reliable information on THR and the science behind smoke-free products without a promotional agenda.

      We are committed to continuing our efforts to foster a better understanding and acceptance of THR among various audiences, as part of our vision of a smoke-free future. We believe that by working together with the scientific community, as well as the healthcare sector, we can make a positive impact on public health. 

      In this video, Gizelle Baker, Vice President Global Scientific Engagement, explains more about CME, why it’s important, and why we take steps to support education for healthcare professionals.