Harm Reduction Alliance Ghana has called on government and health authorities to consider Tobacco Harm Reduction as an integral aspect of the government’s public health approach.

In a press release marking the celebration of World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) the Alliance stated that data from the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction indicates that 3.5% of Ghanaians are smokers. This results in 5,012 dying every year from Tobacco-Related illnesses.

According to the Alliance, “The greatest harm in consuming tobacco is caused by combustion (burning). By removing the element of combustion, the health impact is significantly reduced,” thus the need for Tobacco harm reduction.

They explained Tobacco harm reduction to be concerned with reducing the health impact of consuming tobacco.

5,012 persons die from Tobacco-related illness annually – Harm Reduction Alliance

“Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) is a public health strategy that recognizes the harm caused by combustible cigarettes and aims to minimize the health impacts of cigarette smoking by encouraging those adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke to switch completely to scientifically substantiated, reduced-risk alternatives.”

As part of their call for government and local health authorities to inculcate THR into the government’s health policy, the Alliance has advised that government provides access to products that provide an enjoyable and less risky alternative to smoking.

“Nicotine has been used for decades in licensed medicinal products with such minimal risk that these products are available without prescription in most countries. (e.g., nicotine gum, nicotine patch). Products that can effectively and acceptably deliver nicotine without smoke have the potential to be less harmful than smoked tobacco.”

The group emphasized that the THR has been successful in other countries in reducing preventable morbidity and mortality.

“THR as a public health strategy has been successful in countries such as Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Japan and Korea.”

They are thus calling on government to ensure access to alternative less risky nicotine products to achieve same results in Ghana.

“We believe that it is important to implement Tobacco Harm Reduction as a part of the government’s public health strategy to ensure that citizens live healthier lives. We therefore call on the Ghanaian government and health authorities to consider Tobacco Harm Reduction as an integral aspect of the government’s public health approach.”