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COVID Cooperation Precedents Can Assist Battle Against Tobacco Pandemic

COVID Cooperation Precedents Can Assist Battle Against Tobacco Pandemic

“Tobacco innovation has created opportunities to lower tobacco related death rates. It’s an exceptional opportunity to learn from the lessons of another global public health crisis how can we can leverage the existing COVID clinical research infrastructure beyond COVID and support the risk benefit of harm reduction policies by answering to unmet public health needs on this topic,” Dr. Zoi-Dorothea Pana has suggested, following a recent international summit on tobacco harm reduction.

Pana, MD, MSc, PhD, Lecturer, Pediatrics, Hospital Epidemiology, Infection Control and Prevention, School of Medicine, European University of Cyprus and, amongst other professional roles, a member of the COVID-19 Scientific Committee at the Cyprus Ministry of Health and Scientific Advisor of the Minister of Health, was one of the experts from around the world speaking at the recent 5th Scientific Summit on Tobacco Harm Reduction in Athens, Greece.

In comments to, Pana noted that, as a public health advocate and Scientific advisor, she felt it was crucial to prioritize the tobacco epidemic “as one of the most impactful global public health topics and most importantly to deepen further our scientific knowledge not only on the obstacles for smokers to consider alternatives but also to validate the need for global public health to analyze the communicate the risk more accurately.”

The Summit was organized by SCOHRE, the International Association on Smoking Control & Harm Reduction, and saw participants from 43 countries learn more about recent developments in efforts to reduce the harm caused to the millions of people around the world who cannot give up smoking.

The experts also examined the differences between new, potentially less harm inducing, alternatives to both traditional cigarettes and other products in the combustible tobacco product category.

Combustible tobacco products also include cigars, cigarillos and hookahs, amongst others, while non-combustible tobacco products include e-cigarettes, snuff, snus, nicotine pouches and heated tobacco products. While vaping using liquids containing nicotine but not tobacco, heated tobacco products heat processed tobacco leaf, allowing users to inhale nicotine but avoid other substances usually present in tobacco smoke.

Commenting on her participation at the Summit, Pana noted, “Public health is an interdisciplinary field and by definition it’s the science of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals.”

She continued that the specific conference had successfully identified core issues on tobacco harm reduction policies and managed to approach this debatable important topic from all perspectives.

“Changing smoking behavior and policies requires long-term strategies, unlike the fight against communicable diseases, which usually takes a shorter period for effects to be observed. Open fruitful dialogues with all relevant stakeholders is a key component to moving forward in order to increase awareness and engagement of the public. Promoting transparency and real world and pragmatic evidence to support the evolving tobacco strategies is a second key to tackling the tobacco epidemics not only in Cyprus but in all Member States,” Pana concluded.

The experts from Cyprus also included Michael G. Toumbis, MD, PhD, FCCP, a Pneumonologist and, among other professional roles, President of the Cyprus Institute of Respiratory Diseases.

All panellists agreed that the end goal remains a world free of smoke, but that it is also necessary to consider revising strategies to improve outcomes.




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