“It is a fact that in Italy there are millions of smokers who are unwilling or unable to quit smoking. They do not accept being medicalized for their smoking and in Italy, even today, we do not have a health policy that takes care of these people. Risk reduction is the solution.” So Riccardo Polosa, founder of Coehar, Research Center for the reduction of smoking harm of the University of Catania, which this morning promoted the national conference on harm reduction in the Sicilian city which was attended by the leading experts in the sector.
Tobacco smoke – recalls a note – in Italy still represents the main preventable cause of the development of oncological pathologies. But for many smokers, quitting is really difficult and in recent years the transition to the use of combustion-free and reduced-risk systems has triggered a scientific debate involving the academic community around the world, but the issue also concerns public policies and responses that come from science. “In countries with a liberal approach, such as Sweden or the well-known England, which have chosen to open up to alternative nicotine release tools by promoting them in the cessation pathways for hardened smokers, the prestigious smoke free goal is being reached. It is time to follow the virtuous examples also in Italy”, adds Polosa.
On the subject of international health policy, the imminent COP10, the Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control of the World Health Organization. “The idea of the WHO – underlines the founder of Coehar – is simply to equate technological products without combustion for the delivery of nicotine to the burnt cigarette, but we are talking about two completely different products especially for the toxicological profile. The COP represents “a huge opportunity for public health. We hope that international organizations take into account the role that non-combustible products can play in reducing smoking rates around the world”.
During the meeting, the researchers analyzed the toxic effects of nicotine alone. “Although nicotine is not totally risk-free – explains Giovanni Li Volti, director of Coehar – it is important to underline that it is not responsible for the damage to health deriving from cigarette smoke”.
Among the speeches of the day also the voice of the institutions. “We must intervene through awareness-raising and training courses especially in schools – said the councilor for health of the Sicilian Region, Giovanna Volo – working to reduce smoking rates will allow us to achieve benefits also in terms of costs for the health system”.
According to Francesco Ciancitto, member of the Social Affairs Commission of the Chamber, “the Sirchia law marked an important watershed and achieved epochal results. Today, however, the structure needs to be updated on the basis of new data. We must affect primary and secondary prevention. Smoking and the possible strategies to combat smoking will certainly be topics that we will shortly address in the Commission”.
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