Tobacco opponents dismiss push for alternative products

Monday, November 8th, 2021 06:00 |
Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (KETCA) chairman Joel Gitali. PHOTO/COURTESY

 Tobacco control advocates have dismissed latest calls by some medics to the World Health Organisation to approve usage of alternative products.

Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (KETCA) chairman Joel Gitali yesterday said the so-called safer alternatives are equally addictive. 

KETCA is the voice for civil society organisations fighting against tobacco and its deadly effects in Kenya.

“They are, therefore, not a solution to curing addiction. They simply ensure that the big tobacco expands and/or retains its clientele,” he told People Daily.

Gitali (pictured) argued that most of the alternative products are deliberately designed and engineered to appeal to minors and young adults.

“Contrary to claims that they are meant for adults who find it hard to quit smoking, they are meant to recruit non-smoking young people into addiction,” he pointed out.

Under the umbrella of the African Harm Reduction Alliance (AHRA), the medics are appealing to the delegates attending the WHO’s 9th conference on tobacco control, this month, to move to prevent deaths of millions of smokers by supporting safer alternatives.

They want WHO to rethink its stand on tobacco control, especially on the use of products such as e-cigarettes among others.

Speaking during a joint webinar with Campaign for Safer Alternatives at the weekend, AHRA chief executive Dr Delon Human said scientific evidence shows that vaping and nicotine pouches are much less harmful than cigarettes.

“They can offer smokers their best chance of quitting a lethal habit,” he said in support of a letter written by 100 independent experts in tobacco and nicotine science and policy to delegates due to attend the WHO’s tobacco summit.

“Public health policies should acknowledge that these potential lifesavers would have a hugely positive impact in low- and middle-income countries, where 90 per cent of deaths for Non-Communicable Diseases occur,” he added.

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