Can Tobacco Harm Reduction Save Lives in South Africa?

On the 28th of April, Africa Harm Reduction Alliance put together a panel of global health experts and advocates to discuss the topic of harm reduction and how it can be incorporated into policy to prevent tobacco-related death and disease in South Africa (SA).

The panel was of extraordinary caliber with extensive knowledge and experience.

Dr. Kgosi Letlape, an ophthalmologist from South Africa and president of Africa Harm Reduction Alliance, spoke extensively on how previous harm reduction practices in SA saved many lives, showcasing his prior experience when he embarked on what was regarded as an ambitious project at the time, to provide HIV-positive patients access to antiretroviral treatment. This entailed collaborating with state hospitals to facilitate the treatment of HIV-positive patients when none was provided by the government at the time.

Dr. Anders Milton, a physician with significant experience in public service and a highly sought-after consultant in the healthcare sector, spoke about Sweden's embrace oflower-risk alternatives to cigarettes, such as snus, nicotine pouches, vapes, and heated tobacco products, resulting in one of the lowest smoking rates in Europe.

Kurt Yeo,co-founder of Vaping Saved MyLife, underlined the morbidity and mortality caused by tobacco-related diseases in South Africa. Kurt Yeo gave us the perspective from the consumer's point of view, the real tragedy of smoking, and the impact it has on families. "When we speak about protecting our future generations, does this include growing up with the wisdom of their older generations?"

"I am in no way saying that vaping cures cancer, what it does is offer a way out of the very thing that directly contributes to the disease when everything else failed" - Kurt Yeo.

Dr. Kgosi concluded that there are many misperceptions among medical professionals and doctors about nicotine. "There is very little in the medical curriculum about nicotine. How can you expect them to know when they haven't been taught."

Click here to watch the webinar recording.

Click here to read more about tobacco harm reduction science.

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