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How to 'fight' harmful habits with alternative products with reduced risk

How to 'fight' harmful habits with alternative products with reduced

An unhealthy lifestyle is one of the main causes of diseases that lead to premature death. This is especially noticeable in the so-called developed countries, while about 41 million people die every year from non-communicable diseases, cardiovascular, chronic respiratory diseases, cancer, diabetes, other diseases related to metabolism or mental health. This bracket was made by the head of the department of allergology and pulmonary diseases at the National Institute of Medicine in Warsaw.

Discussing the panel with the theme, "Health and economic benefits from the concept of harm reduction" at the opening of the 14th Global Nicotine Forum in Warsaw, Fal emphasized that these diseases "take" an average of 20-25 years of our lives. According to him, the thesis that brings a healthier life at the same time longevity is not such a simple calculation.

"We usually monitor these five key diseases through the five main risk factors. They include an unhealthy diet for the development of cardiovascular diseases, cigarette consumption for chronic respiratory diseases, alcohol abuse for the development of cancer, lack of physical activity for diabetes and mental and neurological diseases as a result of air pollution. - said Fal.

He also adds that drinking and secondhand smoke themselves are major risk factors, a claim backed up by numbers. Every year, more than 8 million people die as a result of smoking, including 1 million passive users, that is, those who have never lit a cigarette.

"Tobacco smoke is what kills both smokers and non-smokers. As for nicotine, which stands out as the main reason why smokers consume cigarettes, it actually carries some risk factors, but it is not the cause of diseases directly related to smoking," explains Fal.

He also dwelt on the concept of harm reduction, as a form of eliminating a harmful habit, replacing it with an alternative, potentially with reduced risk products. Fal emphasizes that investing in preventive measures is the best solution, which "embraces" the concept in question.

"Replacing something that's very bad with something else that carries less risk is a good idea if we can't get smokers away any other way," says Fal.

He mentioned that the latest data shows that there are currently 1.3 billion smokers in the world, compared to just 10 years ago when this number was 1.1 billion.

"This means that the number of smokers in the general population has increased statistically, in relation to the growth of the population," he continued.

Fal, who has served as head of Poland's public health association for 10 years, also dwelled on other comparative figures.

Almost 1/3 of the world's smokers live in China and India. On the other hand, some major European countries such as Sweden, Great Britain and the Czech Republic, which do not follow the "quit now" model, have managed to significantly reduce the rate of tobacco consumption at the national level, by introducing the concept of harm reduction, adapted to long-term regulatory policies as well as preventive measures.

"Last year, we analyzed the 'epidemic' of smoking in our country for the Polish Parliament and came to the conclusion that the best way out of the scary statistics is prevention. And there are three levels of prevention - primary prevention, then a smart fiscal policy that can help reduce the rate of smokers, but at the same time, there has to be an alternative for them. Tax policy is a useful tool by which we can not only increase the price of cigarettes, but at the same time we also maintain some alternatives. These alternative products are scientifically proven to be less harmful and at a lower price than normal cigarettes, will stimulate smokers to switch to less harmful options," he concluded.