30 January 2020

Dr. Patrick Picavet, Global Head of Scientific & Medical Affairs, answers the question "What is Harm Reduction?" in the context of our research.

We have about 1 billion people who continue to smoke, and we all know that it causes major diseases like cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, and cancer. And that number of smokers, by the estimate of the WHO, will remain that high at minimum until 2025.

There is a real need for an alternative  for a less harmful, less risky alternative. We have to look at “What is the reduction of risk for an individual,” and “What is the reduction of harm, you know, on the population level.” They both interplay with each other.

If I’m an individual smoker, I have a certain risk to get a disease. But there are many other factors that play into the game. My environment, my lifestyle, and so forth. Which is not the same for every individual in the population, right? So, if I want to understand the impact of smoking on the population, I have to look at many individuals to understand what’s the population harm that comes from smoking.

Of course, it’s the best option, you know, for a smoker would be to quit, but unfortunately, that’s not the reality. The reality is that people continue, and therefore you need an alternative which is less harmful, if you want to reduce individual risk as well as population harm.

Smoke-free products are for adult smokers who would otherwise continue smoking. They are not risk-free and contain nicotine, which is addictive. The best choice any smoker can make is to quit cigarettes and nicotine altogether.