The number of smokers in Israel is not decreasing. Are we right about smoking cessation?

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 The number of smokers in Israel is not decreasing. Are we fighting smoking in the right way?

A new study claims that cigarette substitutes are preferable to smoking regular cigarettes.

The best option for a person to maintain their health is to completely stop smoking. However, not everyone is ready to do this. Innovative alternatives to conventional smoking have recently emerged and many are choosing them. Others believe that there is no difference.

A study of 5 million male smokers, conducted by South Korean experts and published on several of the world's leading medical websites such as PubMed, Circulation and others, states that smokers who switch to alternative ways of using tobacco, such as vaping and heating tobacco, less susceptible to cardiovascular disease. The Israeli website “Maariv” also spoke about this on September 7.

The American College of Cardiology says in an official publication that this is an important study, which suggests that non-burn tobacco alternatives to smoking (NNTP) may be an important tool to reduce the number of smokers and to combat harm. from smoking cigarettes. The union is calling for more research to confirm the findings among women, and to determine the impact of various alternatives, including nicotine vapes (Vaping) and heated tobacco products
(Heated Tobacco).

In Israel, despite a number of restrictive laws and some of the highest taxes on cigarettes and smoking products in the world, the share of smokers has not changed over the past decade. A growing number of countries around the world, such as the UK, Japan and New Zealand, attribute the decline in cigarette smoking to the growing trend of using substitutes such as e-cigarettes and vaporizing and heating devices. But what are the health implications of this transition for smokers? Could it also reduce smoking-related diseases?
A study in South Korea made an important contribution to research on the topic, and its publication sheds further light on this issue.

The study was conducted in a country where the number of smokers is one of the highest in the world, and the estimated number of deaths per year as a result of the harm caused by cigarette smoking is approaching 47,000 people. It was funded by the Korean Health and Welfare Service, which examined the impact of quitting regular cigarettes and switching to alternatives such as vaping or heated tobacco systems on cardiovascular disease. The study's findings may influence the use of cigarette substitutes as a means to reduce the number of smokers and combat the global smoking epidemic.

Participants in the study completed comprehensive screening tests in two phases during the five years of the study. Study groups included regular cigarette smokers who quit smoking, those who did not smoke at all, smokers who combined regular cigarettes with alternatives, and smokers who smoked cigarettes first and switched completely to alternatives during the study period when the statistical tools were used. to assess the risk of morbidity among different groups and in accordance with the nature
of consumption.

The findings of the study were that switching cigarette smokers to non-burning tobacco alternatives, such as heating tobacco or vaporizing (non-flammable nicotine or tobacco product), was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than continued smoking regular cigarettes (Combustible Cigarettes). Those who quit smoking completely are at even less risk than those who switch to alternatives. This trend was similar across all study groups.

In Israel, the approach to smoking substitutes such as e-cigarettes and tobacco heating products is that they are “exactly the same as regular cigarettes”. , and recently taxes on some of these substitutes have also increased. The UK and other countries such as Japan,
New Zealand, Sweden and others do not equate this issue and solve this problem in a completely different and more successful way.

1. Link for scientific publication and full study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34601948/
2. Smoking data in South Korea: https://gsthr.org/countries/profile/kor/

Prepared by Leonid Zaltsman

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