Smoking tobacco causes a number of serious diseases and increases the risk of early death. Tobacco control strategies in most countries focus on supply and demand measures intended to prevent initiation, reduce consumption and encourage cessation. These measures have resulted in a decline in smoking prevalence over the last three decades but are unlikely to eliminate smoking altogether. In fact, based on population trends, it is estimated that there will be roughly 1 billion to 1.1 billion smokers by 2025, about the same number as today.
1 billion to 1.1 billion smokers by 2025
Bilano, V., et al. 'Global trends and projections for tobacco use, 1990-2025: an analysis of smoking indicators from the WHO Comprehensive Information Systems for Tobacco Control.' The Lancet 385(9972): 966-976.
Science and technology can and must play a role in devising solutions to this problem. The principal source of the problem is known: decades of scientific research show that the primary cause of smoking-related disease is the Harmful and Potentially Harmful Constituents (HPHCs) formed by the combustion of tobacco. It is combustion that causes the production of the majority of harmful chemicals detected in cigarette smoke. This is why we are developing a portfolio of reduced-risk products* (RRPs) for adult smokers. We refer to these reduced-risk products as our smoke-free products. Switching completely to these products has the potential to be much less harmful than continuing to smoke.
Harmful and Potentially Harmful Constituents (HPHCs)
HPHCs are chemicals or chemical compounds in tobacco products or tobacco smoke that cause or could cause harm to smokers or nonsmokers. The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) requires tobacco manufacturers and importers to report the levels of harmful and potentially harmful constituents (HPHCs) found in their tobacco products and tobacco smoke.
It is combustion that causes the production of the majority of harmful chemicals detected in cigarette smoke.
An alternative for smokers who choose to continue smoking
The only way to completely avoid the risk of smoking-related diseases is to not start smoking at all. For current smokers, the best option is to quit. However, for smokers who would otherwise continue smoking, our goal is to offer smoke-free alternatives that have the potential to reduce the risk of developing smoking-related diseases as compared to continued smoking. We design these products to be appealing to current adult smokers so that they can fully switch.
Offering smoke-free alternatives to adult smokers is a sensible, complementary addition to existing tobacco control strategies. Given the number of smokers who will continue to smoke cigarettes, it makes sense to offer them less risky alternatives if technology makes it possible, and if such products can be made available. Effective policies and regulation should allow smokers to access scientifically substantiated Reduced-Risk Products. They should also enable smokers to make informed choices based on accurate information about these products. At the same time, it is our view that protection of vulnerable populations, like youth, can still be assured when all stakeholders work together.
This is why we are developing a portfolio of smoke-free products for adult smokers. Switching completely to these products has the potential to be much less harmful than continued smoking.