FCTC Eighth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP8) & Harm Reduction

The Eighth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP8) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is less than three months away. Taking place in Geneva from 1 to 6 October, it will focus on topics such as the shaping of a medium-term strategic framework, which will determine the actions to be taken by the Parties over the next five years, and the advances and challenges revealed in the Global Progress Report on Implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Word has it that tobacco harm reduction will be discussed . It’s important for policy makers and health officials to take on board the needs and asks of smokers . I’m not about the rights of smokers to self-destruct versus the rights of non-smokers to a smoke- free environment . Smokers should be brought to the table in the fight against smoking,after all , this is about them . It’s their lives at stake here .If the number of smokers should be reduced, then the ethically-correct way to go about it is to offer a better solution: allow unhindered access to an unrestricted range of highly-attractive low-risk alternatives.

Many smokers are unable — or at least unwilling — to achieve cessation through complete nicotine and tobacco abstinence; they continue smoking despite the very real and obvious adverse health consequences. Conventional smoking cessation policies and programs generally present smokers with two unpleasant alternatives: quit, or die.Tobacco control & the FCTC need to realize the new innovative realities .

As public health professionals are we opposed to concept of harm reduction to help smokers or the product? If it’s the later we need to engage constructively with all stakeholders to help smokers switch or quit based on their needs, choices & opinions . Discussions behind closed doors won’t do it .