We need progressive regulation to achieve smoke-free Ghana – BAT

BAT, a leading tobacco and nicotine products company, has advocated a regulatory framework that encourages adult smokers to switch to smokeless alternatives.

BAT’s recommendations are to accelerate progress towards achieving a smoke-free world.

On World Vape Day, BAT West and Central Africa called for the implementation of sustainable regulation for smokeless nicotine and tobacco products such as vapour products for a smoke-free Ghana.

 It said such regulation should encourage adult smokers to switch, protect consumers with stringent safety standards and prevent underage access to tobacco products.

The Company proposed four principles for effective and impactful regulation relating to smokeless tobacco and nicotine products.

It said for instance, with access to consumer-relevant products, regulations could allow a wide range of smokeless alternatives to ensure that consumers accessed those alternatives and made informed choices about switching based on the available scientific evidence.

BAT said for adult-only consumer, regulations should discourage the use and sale of smokeless tobacco and nicotine products by and to the underage.

It said robust and properly enforced quality and safety standards should be at the heart of regulation to protect consumers.

The Company said regulation should also provide enforcement authorities with the necessary powers to apply penalties and sanctions to those who failed to comply with regulations, particularly those who supplied non-compliant products and sold to underage.

Mr Yarub Al-Bahrani, the Managing Director, BAT West & Central Africa, in a press release copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, said “Providing adult smokers with reduced risk alternatives to make informed choices is crucial both for countries looking to reduce their smoking rates and for global public health.”

“Whether or not governments can take advantage of these products and maximise their harm reduction potential depends as much on the implementation of progressive, risk-proportionate regulation as it does on changes in consumer behaviour.”

The statement said countries that had implemented regulations that recognised the harm reduction potential of smokeless products and supported their use for adult smokers had experienced a decline in smoking. 

Noting that the UK, US and Japan were all reporting their lowest smoking rates on record, while Sweden was on track to declaring itself smoke-free this year, 16 years ahead of the 2040 EU target.

“This is largely a result of widespread awareness, regulated availability, and usage of smokeless alternatives, such as vapour products, heated products and nicotine pouches.

“There are widespread misconceptions about the risk of smokeless products compared to smoking. These discourage many smokers who don’t quit smoking from switching to these smokeless products.  The science is clear, well-stewarded smokeless tobacco and nicotine products have a considerably lower-risk profile than smoking.

“It’s the toxicants released by the burning of tobacco that cause the harm associated with smoking,” Mr Yarub added.

He said BAT’s purpose was to create “Better Tomorrow by Building a Smokeless World.”

That commitment, he said, was demonstrated in various ways, including the Company’s investment of more than GH¢5,598,600,000 a year in the development of smokeless tobacco and nicotine products, which were sold across over 75 markets globally.

Source: GNA

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