Kenya has been urged to accelerate the availability of alternatives to tobacco products, which can potentially lower the health risks posed by cigarettes.
Scientists drawn from different African countries, who spoke during the second Harm Reduction Exchange Conference in Nairobi Tuesday, said traditional cessation and smoking prevention norms are not the only ways to help smokers make healthier choices that cause less harm to themselves and those around them.
“There has been a lot of disinformation surrounding the topic of nicotine and the alleged negative effects that e-cigarettes have on public health. This has led to policies that disfavour risk-reducing products and narratives that completely deny their benefits,” said Integra Africa Principal Dr Tendai Mhizha.
“The harm reduction approach prevents drug-related deaths and overdose fatalities and is the only way out for addicts. In the same way, these alternative technologies can reduce tobacco harm and accelerate the journey to a smoke-free world as they reduce exposure to toxicants,” added Policy Manager at Voices of Community Action and Leadership Kenya Bernice Apondi.
Prof Abdoul Kasse, an oncologist and a professor of surgery at the Cancer Institute in Senegal, said harm reduction is a powerful public health tool that has the potential to reduce cancer by 30 per cent.