The first step towards improved health for smokers

Cigarette smoking kills more than 7 million people each year, translating to one smoking-related death every five seconds. If the pattern of smoking all over the globe doesn’t change, more than 8 million people a year will die from diseases related to tobacco use by 2030. National and international organizations, governments, activists and various other authorities have been working to reduce the burden of tobacco smoking but the number of smokers in the world are testament to the fact that it is not as easily achievable – the WHO estimates that by 2025 there will still be more than 1 billion people in the world who will continue to choose to smoke. 
Quitting cigarettes altogether is the most effective way to reduce harm caused by smoking but it is not that easy and many smokers are not even willing to try.Experts have identified that nicotine is the main reason why people continue to smoke but aside from being addictive it has relatively minor health effects andthe majorityof the harm from smoking is caused by the thousands of toxins in the smoke produced by burning tobacco. In fact, the UK Royal College of Physicians has stated, ‘If nicotine could be delivered effectively and acceptably to smokers without smoke, most if not all of the harm of smoking could probably be avoided.’
So, what can be done to reduce harm caused by smoking?To find outhow we can reduce the said harm, we first need to understand what actually causes thatharm. Out of all the components of a cigarette, the one that makes it so dangerous is the smoke produced when tobacco is burned. When a cigarette is lit, it burns tobacco to generate smoke which contains thousands of chemicals, a majority of which pose numerable risks to the health of smokers and their surroundings. To reduce tobacco harm, it is necessary to avoid burning of tobacco and the subsequent release of toxic smoke. 
Tobacco harm reduction strategies reduce the health risks of smoking by eliminating the production of smoke. Keeping in view the difficulty of quitting smoking and the increasing number of smokers, many products have been designed with the aim to reduce tobacco harm, some of which are e-cigarettes, vapes and heated tobacco products (HTPS). These less harmful alternatives effectively reduce tobacco harm by preventing release of tobacco smokewhile delivering nicotine to satisfy nicotine cravings. This is made possible by heating the tobacco instead of burning it, which is the root cause of the harm. Among these products, the HTPs are based on the heat-not-burn principle. They heat the tobacco at a certain temperature instead of burning it. E-cigarettes and vapes on the other hand heat the liquid present inside the devices. Both technologies effectively curb the emission of cigarette smoke. 
While not risk-free, the overwhelming scientific research shows that these products expose the user to far lower levels of toxic and harmful compounds than cigarettes. Where, without any doubt, absolute cessation of the habit is the best bet for a smoker, these less-harmful alternatives can prove to be an effective first step to better health for smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke. According to Public Health England, these products are 95% less harmful than combustible cigarettes. If a smoker switches completely from smoking he/she is likely to benefit from substantial improvements in health. Although the goal is to fully erase the harm, it is far better to switch to these better alternatives long-term than to relapse – or to not quit at all.

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