25 November, 2021

Tobacco Harm Reduction - Let's Start Now!

It is easy to get hooked on the habit of smoking but it may seem difficult to stop puffing. Some take a couple of months or years, while others take a lifetime to get rid of this health-threatening practice. Practically speaking, a 100% elimination of nicotine exposure may not always be achievable due to various circumstances - the working environment, pressure from the society, state of mind, etc - hence don't worry! We are here to help with the Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) initiative by Harm Awareness Association (HAA)!


What is Tobacco Harm Reduction?

THR is a continuous effort to reduce the levels of harm from the use of tobacco among smokers. In short, it helps smokers switch to less harmful alternatives where you can still have some leisure time with cigarettes and tobacco while minimising the detrimental health impacts to our good self and also people around us.
 
When we open a pack of cigarettes, we usually see the illustrations of damaged lungs and organs displayed on the box itself with some warning messages to remind smokers to smoke responsibly. Cigarettes have always painted a picture to us since young that it is harmful, but do you know what exactly is the biggest harm it does to our body? The burning of the cigarettes itself is already the biggest threat to our lungs as it releases toxic smoke which is hazardous to the smoker itself and the surrounding people who inhale the smoke. So, one of the most straight-forward alternative is to switch to e-cigarettes (also known as vapes, mods, etc).

Based on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), e-cigarettes are definitely less harmful than regular cigarettes as they generally contain fewer toxic chemicals than the deadly mix of 7,000 chemicals in smoke from regular cigarettes. Notwithstanding this, smokers should be reminded that e-cigarettes are not entirely safe as they still contain nicotine, heavy metals and other carcinogens. 
 
Another noteworthy point to consider is that e-cigarettes are not currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a quit smoking aid.

(Source: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/about-e-cigarettes.html)

Another reasonable way to resist tobacco cravings (especially when the urge of smoking can be so powerful sometimes) is to consider nicotine replacement therapy, under a proper doctor consultation and prescription if necessary. For instance, nicotine gum, lozenges, nasal sprays or inhalers are commonly available in the pharmacies or clinics, to help smokers overcome intense cravings. In fact, chewing on sugarless gum or hard candy can help too - just keep your mouth busy and away from tobacco!
 
While these solutions fall into the short-acting category, they should be combined with long-term medications such as nicotine patches etc. The effectiveness, however, would very much depend on the individual's will and determination to reduce the personal reliance on tobacco. It may not help smokers to quit smoking but it can surely reduce the frequency of smoking and therefore reduce the risks associated with smoking.

Now that you have alternatives that can help eradicate the harm-inducing habits, will you stay away from tobacco as much as possible? Let's work hand-in-hand and build a better and healthier Malaysia together!

Be part of #TobaccoHarmReduction movement and
find out more on HAA’s website: https://haahub.com.my!

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