The problem with burning tobacco

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The problem with burning. (Philip Morris International)
The problem with burning. (Philip Morris International)

Humanity would not be where we are today without fire. In some areas though, with new technology and understanding at our fingertips, it’s high time we stamped combustion out.

One such area is smoking. Burning happens when fuel is ignited in the presence of oxygen. This kickstarts a reaction which releases heat, light, smoke and ash. In a cigarette the fuel— tobacco—burns at a high temperature and creates smoke which carries in it over 6000 chemicals. Around 100 of these have been classified by leading public health agencies as harmful or potentially harmful.

When it comes to cigarettes, it is clear that smoking is harmful due primarily to the high levels of harmful chemicals carried within tobacco smoke. This is the problem with burning.

Governments rightly work hard to discourage smoking and to encourage smokers to quit. Despite these efforts though, we know that many continue to smoke.

Enter smoke-free alternatives. These products deliver nicotine without burning tobacco – some examples include e-cigarettes, heated tobacco or heat-not-burn products, and snus.  Since no burning takes place, these products don’t produce smoke, hence the name smoke-free. Instead, they produce an aerosol that is fundamentally different to the smoke of burning tobacco. 

Smoke-free products can therefore achieve significant reductions in levels of harmful chemicals compared to burning cigarettes. Of course, this does not mean they are risk-free and all products vary so should each be scientifically assessed and validated on their own merits.

The problem with burning
Facts about burning tobacco. (Philip Morris International)

Smokers should stop smoking and using nicotine altogether—this remains the best choice by far. For those adults who don’t quit, switching completely to a smoke-free alternative is a much better choice than continued smoking.

With the right regulatory encouragement, which differentiates scientifically substantiated smoke-free products from cigarettes, support from civil society and the full embrace of science, less harmful nicotine alternatives can replace cigarettes for adults who would otherwise continue smoking.

Nicotine is not risk-free and is addictive, and there are certain groups of people in particular who should steer well clear of it. This includes minors, pregnant or breastfeeding mothers and people with certain health conditions. Nevertheless, as science has developed better alternatives to continued smoking, it’s important that adults who smoke have access to accurate information to guide their choices.

Enter our tobacco survey and stand a chance to win R2000. Click HERE.

To learn more, head to the Unsmoke South Africa homepage.

Read our previous article | Is nicotine the primary cause of smoking related disease?

This post was sponsored and supplied by Philip Morris International.

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