A middle-ground approach for smokers

Choices matter, especially when it comes to a person’s wellbeing. In this day and age, when awareness about good health is growing, people can make better decisions about their lifestyle choices. In the context of smoking, traditionally, smokers are provided with two options: quit or continue smoking. As a result, those who do not immediately quit are forced to risk their health by continuing to smoke. 
For adults who would choose continue smoking, there are now additional choices: to switch to scientifically substantiated less harmful, smoke-free alternatives available in the market, which should be promoted to minimize the health risks. E-cigarettes, vapes, heated tobacco products (HTPs), snus, nicotine pouchesare some of the alternatives which, according to scientific evidence, are considerably less harmful than cigarettes since they do not involve the burning of tobacco and therefore do not release smoke. In cigarettes, it is this very smoke – produced by the burning of tobacco – which causes majority of smoking-related diseases due to the toxins released.  Thus, smokefree alternatives are designed to minimize harm to the health of smokers, keeping this science in mind. 
The fact of the matter remains that quitting smoking altogether is the best way forward but for those who would continue anyway, cigarette alternatives are a great way to reduce health risks to a considerable extent. For these smokers, this flexible approach and less harmful products can provide a middle-ground through which they can reduce risks to their health which is clearly the next best option than continuing to let cigarettes jeopardize their health.
Despite that, several health and regulatory bodies along with governments are putting bans or are against aptly regulating these products according to their specifications. In a world of heightened innovation and awareness, common sense and mutual consensusmust prevail keeping in mind the health of smokers. Ignoring it means denying millions of adult smokers the right and choice to switch to smoke-free products that are scientifically substantiated to be less harmful than continued cigarette smoking.
It is essential that smokers be provided with another choice other than to either quit cold turkey, which is not a viable option for many, or to continue smoking. Reducing harm through alternative products is a moderate way in between the two choices and instils a sense of control and encourages positive behavioural change amongst smokers. Adults who smoke should be given access to accurate information about these products along with ensuring proper regulation and availability of these alternatives.
In light of scientific evidence, we need to realise that by adopting a consumer-centric approach led by science, innovation, and technology, we can bring about greater benefits for individuals, society, and the environment as a whole. 

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