What is Tobacco Harm Reduction?

Tobacco harm reduction (THR) is a public health strategy to lower the health risks to individuals and wider population associated with smoking cigarettes. Smoking has been the leading cause of morbidity and mortality for decades, increasing the cost of public health and creating negative social impact.

The concept of THR originated in 1976 by Professor Michael Russell who wrote that _people smoke for nicotine but they die from the tar_, which is created by the combustion of tobacco in cigarettes. Nicotine, in itself, is considerably less harmful even though it is addictive.

Therefore, the idea is that if nicotine could be effectively and acceptably delivered without smoke, it is likely that most if not all the harm of smoking could be avoided. THR measures have been focused on reducing or eliminating the use of combustible tobacco by switching to alternative products, such as:

  • Electronic cigarettes
  • Smokeless tobacco products such as Swedish snus
  • Heated tobacco products
  • and others.