Embracing Tobacco Harm Reduction to save lives: Sweden’s Experience and Lessons for Ghana

Sweden’s harm reduction strategy to combat tobacco-related deaths and improve public health is an inspiring model that has saved millions ...

Embracing Tobacco Harm Reduction to save lives: Sw
Embracing Tobacco Harm Reduction to save lives: Sw

Sweden’s harm reduction strategy to combat tobacco-related deaths and improve public health is an inspiring.

model that has saved millions of lives.

Sweden’s results towards achieving a smoke-free society is a success story and an exemplary model.

for countries around the world, especially in Africa to adopt in their ongoing efforts towards.

reducing the health impact of smoking.

Tobacco harm reduction is a public health strategy that aims to reduce the.

negative health impacts of smoking by providing smokers with alternative products that are less harmful.

than cigarettes.

Its goal is to help smokers quit smoking altogether in favour of a less harmful.


International health experts have urged African policymakers to adopt Sweden’s Tobacco harm reduction.

strategy to combat tobacco-related deaths and improve public health across the continent.

For example, over the past 15 years, Sweden has reduced its smoking rates from 15%.

in 2008 to 5.

6% today.

This is the lowest smoking rate in Europe with corresponding health impacts.

For instance, Sweden now has a 41% lower incidence of cancer than other European countries.

and a 39% lower mortality rate than the European average from all tobacco-related diseases.

These achievements highlight Sweden’s smoke-free strategy and underscore the potential benefits of adopting a similar.

approach in other societies.

A recent report – “The Swedish Experience: A Roadmap for a Smoke-free Society,”.

– published by Dr Delon Human and Dr Anders Milton, suggests that if other countries.

adopt similar measures, 3.

5 million lives could be saved across Europe in the next decade.

The Swedish model of Tobacco Harm reduction is the acceptance of less harmful.

alternatives like snus, nicotine pouches, vapes, and heated tobacco products and ensuring that those alternatives.

are known to, available, and affordable to the general public.

These alternatives provide a pathway for smokers to transition away from combustible cigarettes, to non-combustible.

tobacco or nicotine alternatives that significantly reduce the exposure to harmful chemicals produced by smoking.

Public health experts, consumers, and policymakers converged to discuss the urgent need to.

implement Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) strategies in Africa, in a THR webinar hosted by the.

Africa Harm Reduction Alliance (AHRA) on the 28th of April 2023.

The panel highlighted the success of countries like Sweden and the United Kingdom, which have.

embraced lower-risk alternatives to cigarettes, resulting in reduced smoking rates and tobacco-related diseases.

The webinar was an urgent wake-up call for African nations, highlighting the pressing need to.

adopt and leverage tobacco harm reduction (THR) strategies to combat cigarette smoking and its consequences.

on public health effectively

“Sweden’s success story should be celebrated as a public health.


We should all be on the mountaintop shouting ‘Victory!’ and looking at Sweden as the.

best-case practice”, Dr Delon Human, the Secretary-General of the AHRA said.

He further added that the efforts are all about saving lives and improving the quality.

of life for smokers who’ve been unable to quit.

“Harm reduction is their way out; it’s their fire escape”,

Kurt Yeo, a consumer.

advocate, called for a rethinking of the approach to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and the potential.

of THR in addressing the smoking pandemic issue.


Derek Yach, a global health consultant and founder of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World,.

has stressed the need for better access to reduced-risk alternatives and more accurate diagnostics for.

tobacco-related conditions.

He warned against proposals that would regulate harm-reduction products, such as e-cigarettes and nicotine pouches,.

the same as combustible cigarettes.

If we miss the opportunity to adopt THR “a review in a few years’ time.

will show that we’ve actually forgone the opportunity to save many, many lives,” Dr Yach.


Smoking was outlawed in all public places in Ghana in 2012 when the.

Public Health Act 851 was passed and put into effect.

The purpose of the study was to assess how the public smoking ban affected SHS.

exposure in hospitality settings.

Ghana needs to begin to consider implementing robust tobacco control policies that promote.

tobacco harm reduction and reduced-risk alternatives for smokers who want to but cannot quit.

Policymakers, public health professionals, and the scientific community need to foster international research collaboration, ensure.

that accurate and evidence-based information is readily available to consumers, and actively engage in constructive.

dialogue among a diverse array of stakeholders.

Tobacco harm reduction, when approached with a well-coordinated and evidence-based strategy, can play.

a crucial role in significantly reducing the health impact of smoking in Ghana.

By taking the right steps in prioritizing and implementing THR initiatives, Ghana and other African.

nations can save millions of lives, alleviate the strain on healthcare systems, and work towards.

a healthier future for our people.

By embracing less harmful alternatives to smoking, and THR strategies, we can begin.

to make tangible progress in the fight against cigarette smoking.

This transformative shift will not only benefit the health and well-being of individuals but will.

also contribute to the overall socioeconomic development and progress of Ghana and the African continent.

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