World Health Organization “No Tobacco Day”

The World Health Organization declared Thursday, May 31st to be “World No Tobacco Day”. Their goal? One day where the entire world refrained from tobacco consumption. While their intent is good, WHO’s message could save far more lives if they were to account for harm reduction products.

Like the FDA, the World Health Organization has taken the stance that no tobacco is good tobacco. It’s true that refraining from nicotine altogether is the best option; but, contrary to WHO’s message, there actually are forms of tobacco which are less harmful than cigarettes. From chewing tobacco to lozenges to Snus; smokeless tobacco carries far less risk to the individual than cigarettes.

This is evidenced by the country of Sweden, where Snus is incredibly popular. A huge percentage of the Swedish population use Snus; however, the incidence of oral cancers is quite low. There are numerous studies conducted by a range of authors in a slew of countries, showing conclusively that cigarettes are far and away the most dangerous of all tobacco products.

It’s difficult to say what is motivating WHO’s rigid stance on nicotine. Many industry experts argue that telling the public one form of nicotine is safer than another will cause a resurgence in tobacco use. On the other hand, there are those out there who say it’s worth the risk; particularly when you take into consideration the number of cigarette-related cancer deaths world-wide.