What does the rise in global vapers mean for tobacco and nicotine policy

As more consumers switch to nicotine in a less risky way to reduce harm to their own health, the rapid replacement of cigarettes with safer alternatives such as e-cigarettes will enhance ambitions for a smoke-free world.

Global vapers based on new data are estimated at 82 million, a significant but expected increase from previous forecasts, indicating continued global uptake of nicotine vaping products. The growth was primarily driven by growth in the North American and Western European markets.

In high-income countries, the main debate about nicotine e-cigarettes has focused on the perceived threat of e-cigarette products to young people, ignoring their potential for significant harm reduction for current adult smokers.

But there are still huge gaps in the data, with only 49 countries having actionable findings.

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Global health organizations, vaping product manufacturers and other SNP producers are also ignoring the potential for safer nicotine products in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), which account for 80 percent of the world’s 1.1 billion smokers. With little or no access to smoking cessation support, citizens of low- and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected by smoking-related death and disease, with under-resourced and overstretched health systems unable to diagnose and treat.

Using safer alternatives to reduce tobacco harm provides an unprecedented exit strategy for more than one billion smokers worldwide. For decades, International Tobacco Control and WHO have worked to ban combustible cigarettes. Worryingly, safer nicotine products and e-cigarettes are now on their radar. Ultimately, this policy will be considered counterproductive. For the first time, these products offer a range of positive incentives for those quitting smoking and add a number of inhibitory factors.

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