Tobacco harm reduction (THR) is a public health strategy to lower the health risks caused by smoking cigarette. Recently, Taiwan Tobacco Harm Reduction Association (TTHRA) proposed a petition that requires the Taiwan government to recognize THR as a human right. If the Taiwanese government accepts this petition, then it will help to achieve the goal for Smoke-Free Taiwan 2040.
Tobacco harm reduction aims to decrease the risk from combustible cigarette by using alternative products. E-cigarette, Swedish snus, heat-not-burn tobacco products, and innovative technology-aided electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) are the major alternatives for harmful tobacco products on contemporary market. A large number of scientific studies have shown that alternatives products mentioned above are less harmful than general combustible cigarette.
The TTHRA hope introducing international THR information into Taiwan and improved the tobacco control mechanism in Taiwan by using THR strategy.
TTHRA is a member of Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA), which is a regional association that supports national organizations promoting tobacco harm reduction such as TTHRA. Nancy Loucas, the executive coordinator of CAPHRA said that health is a fundamental human right that should be given to each person, and this also meets the declaration of WHO.
“The refusal of the government of Taiwan to recognize the concept of tobacco harm reduction, including the use of ENDS in the fight against tobacco harm, goes against both of these declarations by WHO and puts the people of Taiwan at a disadvantage in making self-determination decisions around their health”, said by Nancy Loucas.
Although there still have debates about the ban or regulation of vape and ENDS, on the International Human Rights Day in 2017, the WHO stated that the vaping should be regulated rather than ban to protect public health. And the latest report in 2020 from WHO presents a support of smoke-free nicotine products.
The United Nations also pointed out that “raising vaping/ENDS tax and protecting the people can bring a win-win situation for the government”.
Taiwan is now prepare to celebrate the World No Tobacco Day on 31st May. Yu-Yang Wang as a member of TTHRA pointed out that the theme of this year is “protecting young people from tobacco industry manipulation and preventing them from using tobacco and nicotine”.
TTHRA states that Taiwan is now committed to build a smoke-free world, which the prevalence of cigarette smoking is less than 5 percent of the national population according to the Foundation for a Smoke-Free Taiwan (FSFT).