On 11 May 2023, São Paulo hosted the South American Seminar on Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR). Experienced speakers, from fields including public health, academia and government, gathered to discuss the future of THR. The seminar also saw the launch of pahra.net – the Pan America Harm Reduction Alliance (PAHRA) website that focuses on providing accurate information on THR and related topics.

Crucial takeaways:

  • Potential lives saved with THR: As many as 3 million lives per year can be saved by 2060 by embracing empathetic tactics to encourage individual smokers to quit or switch to non-combustible THR products.
  • Case studies from Sweden, Japan, the UK, New Zealand and Germany: National approaches to THR must be based on Professor Michael Russell's statement that "People smoke for the nicotine but die from the tar." The case studies show that through affordable, accessible, socially acceptable alternatives to smoking, smoking rates (and the related disease burden and mortality rates) are drastically lowered.
  • Nicotine policy principles such as risk-proportionate regulation, youth prevention, labelling, cessation and taxation: Through risk-proportionate regulation, regulators can positively impact THR. This involves very strict regulation of the most harmful products (such as cigarettes), while regulation of the least harmful products (such as vapes) focuses on consumer protection. This also impacts a country's approach to labelling, taxation, advertising and more.
  • Consumer insights on the topics of misinformation, cessation motives and methods, flavours, and nicotine misperceptions: A large proportion of current smokers indicate that they would like to stop smoking. With present methods, however, the effective quit rate is very low. Consumer education is crucial, as many believe that THR products (such as vapes, snus and tobacco pouches) are as harmful (or even more harmful) as combustible tobacco products.

Sound science-based policy development must not only replace ideological pressures and the overemphasis on youth initiation but also clearly communicate that THR alternatives are much less harmful than smoking and encourage the creative destruction of the cigarette by allowing innovation in smoke-free nicotine delivery systems.

Some of the world-renowned independent tobacco harm reduction experts at the event included:

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Watch the video to learn more about how THR can save lives in Brazil and Latin America:

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