The present ‘puritan’ approach to defeating the health risks posed by tobacco smoking should be abandoned by anti-smoking lobbyists and regulators in favour of a pragmatic approach which recognises that alternatives like vaping are up to 95% less harmful, and have the potential to meaningfully reduce the toll on the health of tobacco smokers around the globe.
So says Prof Daniel Malan – an ex-smoker and director of the Stellenbosch University-based Centre for Corporate Governance in Africa, in a report entitled ‘Where there’s no smoke, is there still fire? ethical aspects of tobacco harm reduction, published by the Africa Harm Reduction Alliance (AHRA).
The report suggests that reducing the harm inherent in smoking should be recognised as a strategy in the fight against the well-documented health risks faced by smokers. Tobacco smoking, says the report, still takes up to five million lives globally every year, and sees government earnings by taxes dwarfed by the US $ 1.0 trillion loss to global economies through premature death of workers, lost production and costs of healthcare.
Against these facts must be measured the debatable success of international bids like the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), that was launched by the World Health Organisation in 2005. Legally binding on 180 countries and focusing on the production, sale, distribution, advertising and taxation of tobacco the FCTC, in addition to other measures, should see the incidence of smoking reduce globally