In a short report such as this, it is only possible to highlight some of the key issues
surrounding THR and the availability of SNP in the region.
Safer nicotine products – vaping products, heated tobacco products and US and
Swedish style oral nicotine products are simply that – significantly safer than
combustible tobacco and the regional varieties of SLT product found in Asia.
Asia has the highest number of smokers (743 million) in the world and the highest
number of SLT users (261 million). Over half of the smokers who die every year die in
There is a huge disparity in the region between the number of people who smoke at
743 million and the number of people who use vaping products, at an estimated 19
million – a ratio of 39:1.
Yet Asia has been at the forefront of a number of tobacco harm reduction success
stories. A Chinese scientist made the world’s first commercially viable vaping device
and China has become the world’s largest manufacturer of nicotine vaping products.
Both Japan and South Korea have shown how smokers can be encouraged to
switch away from cigarettes, with Japan experiencing dramatic falls in cigarette sales
since the introduction of HTP.
In some Asian countries, the government has a substantial stake in tobacco
companies. The Chinese National Tobacco Corporation is the largest tobacco
company in the world. The potential for conflicts of interest between in-country
economic and health policies is self-evident. Looking to the future, these same
companies could play a major role in the development, manufacture and promotion
of safer nicotine products across the whole region.
New safer nicotine products must be affordable and accessible, but also appropriate
and acceptable to consumers, to embrace the wide social and cultural traditions and
economic circumstances across Asia. Innovation in manufacturing processes may be
required to create viable safer alternatives to traditional regional or country-specific
Policymakers and legislators should exercise self-determination in reviewing
the evidence of the public health benefits of safer nicotine products for their
populations. Undue influence and interference from western-backed, anti-tobacco
harm reduction lobbyists should be avoided and exposed.
Tobacco harm reduction, using safer nicotine products, seeks to complement and
not replace existing tobacco control policies. It provides more options for people
who, for whatever reason, cannot quit using nicotine. It helps people switch away
from more dangerous tobacco products.
Bans or disproportionate regulation of safer products have the unintended
consequence of keeping smokers and users of SLT in the grip of these more
Allowing access to appropriately regulated safer nicotine products, manufactured
either by state-owned or private companies, would be far better for individual and
public health in Asia than leaving 743 million people to continue smoking and 261
million people to continue using dangerous SLT products. Access to SNP would
help relieve the healthcare burden on governments trying to deal with smoking and
smokeless tobacco-related disease.
Finally – and it is a point worth repeating – there is currently a huge gap between
the number of people using dangerous tobacco products and those using safer
nicotine products in Asia. If the opportunities offered by safer nicotine products are
embraced, there are potentially game-changing health gains for the region.