Harm Reduction

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Tobacco harm reduction is a pragmatic approach to reducing the harm of smoking related diseases. People smoke because they are addicted to nicotine and seek a ‘hit’, but it is the other toxins in tobacco smoke that cause most of the harm. Nicotine can be obtained from a range of products, which vary in their level of harm and addictiveness, from smoked tobacco (i.e. cigarettes) at the top end of the harm/addiction spectrum, to medicinal nicotine (i.e. nicotine replacement therapy products) at the bottom end. A harm reduction approach to tobacco control encourages those smokers that cannot, or are unwilling to, stop smoking, to switch to using nicotine in a less harmful form, and ideally would result in them ultimately quitting nicotine use altogether.

Products with Potential for Harm Reduction

The Next Generation Products page gives an overview of transnational tobacco company interests and products, and links to more detailed pages for each company. The page contains a graphic overview of key tobacco company brands.

The following pages give more detail on the product types, and link back to tobacco company product pages:

See also Product Innovation as a tobacco company strategy.

There is a full list of pages in the category Harm Reduction here.

For a discussion of whether NGPs can help advance public health see the main page on Next Generation Products.

Industry-Funded Research Promoting Harm Reduction

Tobacco harm reduction has been controversial and divisive in public health, in particular where the debate has focussed on a possible role for other tobacco products such as e-cigarettes and snus, within a tobacco harm reduction strategy.1 One of the reasons harm reduction is a sensitive topic is that it could involve engaging with the tobacco industry, which has a history of manipulating public debate and public health policy (with tactics highlighted on this website). To fully understand the harmfulness of potentially reduced risk products and their effectiveness for smoking cessation, tobacco industry investments and research into harm reduction and potentially reduced risk products should be carefully scrutinised. Who has paid for the research? And which scientists, organisations and institutions are involved?

In fact, a number of scientists leading the debate on harm reduction and/or potentially reduced risk products are funded by the tobacco industry. Examples include:

TCRG Research




  1. C.E. Gartner, W.D. Hall, S. Chapman, B. Freeman, The PLoS Medicine Debate: Should the Health Community Promote Smokeless Tobacco (snus) as a Harm Reduction Measure? PLoS Medicine, 2007;4(7):1138-1141, doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040185