Joseph Magero
Sep 5, 2018 · 3 min read

Since this week we are discussing NCDs , I thought it would be an awesome global opportunity to talk to each other, to leaders, to media, to crowds, to the world about what works well and what needs to change to ensure a transition from commitment to tangible actions that not only yield reportable improvements in NCD targets and outcomes, but result in the improvement of health and lives of all people in all places.

Noncommunicable diseases are the most common causes of premature mortality and morbidity worldwide. An estimated 80% of the burden occurs in low- to middle-income countries, and 25% affects people younger than 60 years .We all know tobacco is a common and highly dangerous risk factor of many chronic noncommunicable diseases, killing millions annually. Smoking is the one risk factor common to the main NCDs and also contributes to countless other diseases. The WHO FCTC set out legally binding measures for achieving agreed targets to reduce the burden of tobacco-related diseases,but I believe more can be done. What are we doing to help the 1 billion smokers worldwide? Is there nothing more we can do to reduce the number of smokers in the developing countries , which seems to be on the increase according to statistics ? Tobacco use is projected to kill 1 billion people in the 21st century . We must discuss innovative ways to deal with this catastrophe. Harm reduction is an important discussion in our quest to beat NCDs.

High level action is needed to beat NCDS. If people are choosing to indulge in nicotine consumption, safer alternatives should be made available to the smoker, to help reduce the damage caused by tobacco use. With vaping products being 95% safer than cigarettes , smokers who cannot quit should be encouraged to switch to vaping in an effort to reduce the NCD burden. This approach will ensure less smokers worldwide , which in turn will reduce the number of deaths from tobacco related diseases and the health burden on our economy . We all know that what kills in a cigarette is the tar , not nicotine. Combustion is a defining characteristic of conventional cigarettes.There are products that can deliver similar pleasure to cigarettes, minus the harm. This is what I am referring to as harm reduction. If all smokers worldwide switched to these safer alternatives , we would have eliminated the global NCD burden caused by tobacco use.

Reducing tobacco use plays a major role in global efforts to achieve the SDG target to reduce premature deaths from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) by one third by 2030. A multi-pronged approach to tobacco harm reduction in the low-and middle-income countries of sub-Saharan Africa, that incorporates both tobacco consumption and production, is needed. Harm reduction has multiple benefits for the smoker,non smoker, economy and environment as well.

Governments must consider harm reduction to reduce tobacco use and the global burden of NCDs, save lives and benefit their country’s economy. The number of smokers in some countries has reduced drastically due to safer alternatives like e-cigarettes being availed to smokers . Once Governments embrace harm reduction in the fight against tobacco use , lives will be saved and citizens will be healthier .

Joseph Magero

Written by

Avid Tobacco Harm Reductionist

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