A balanced approach to regulation can end cigarette use

24 Mar 2023 · 2 min read
By adopting risk-proportionate regulation of smoke-free products, governments will encourage those adult smokers who don’t quit to switch to scientifically substantiated better alternatives—and leave cigarettes behind for good.
Balanced approach landscape

Today, smoke-free products that are a better alternative to cigarettes exist for those adults who would otherwise continue to smoke.

However, all too often decision-makers are denying this vast population the opportunity to make a better choice.

Of course, the best choice for any smoker is to quit all products containing tobacco and nicotine. That is beyond doubt.

But, in any given year, nine out of ten adult smokers continue to smoke. This underlines the importance of new smoke-free innovations in complementing cessation strategies.

The robust case for risk-proportionate regulation

There is no question that all tobacco and nicotine products should be regulated. What remains to be sufficiently addressed is how they should be regulated.

A growing number of public health and policy experts recommend that regulation should follow a fundamental principle: Products that carry different levels of risk should be regulated differently and in proportion to the risks they pose.

This is known as risk-proportionate regulation, which recognizes that scientifically substantiated smoke-free alternatives are a better choice than continued smoking for those adults who wouldn’t otherwise quit cigarettes.

However, in many countries around the world, the only tobacco and nicotine products that can be legally sold are combustible products, such as cigarettes.

And even where innovative better alternatives are available, existing policies often impede access to them.

This must change.

Countries should adopt a balanced approach to regulation—one that paves the way for adult smokers to have access to, and accurate information about, better alternatives that they can afford, while at the same time preventing unintended use, such as by youth.

Status quo or progress?

Not adopting this approach essentially means accepting the status quo—that smokers who would not otherwise quit will continue to smoke cigarettes, the most harmful form of nicotine consumption.

Governments have a crucial role in defining the way forward. They can influence the pace and scale at which adult smokers switch to better alternatives by embracing a balanced approach to regulation that keeps pace with scientific and technological progress.








Working together toward a smoke-free future

Combining existing measures like prevention and cessation with smoke-free alternatives for those adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke presents a monumental public health opportunity.

That’s why we’re appealing to governments to recognize the clear scientific merits of risk-proportionate regulation and allow adult smokers access to, and accurate information about, these products.

This is the modern approach that will bring a smoke-free future to fruition—and make cigarettes a thing of the past.