Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Is Harm Reduction the New Way to Quit Smoking?

Some health care professionals are encouraging smokers to switch to smokeless tobacco or snus as a way to quit smoking because smokeless is less harmful than the combustion and inhalation of smoke. I consider harm reduction the same as wearing a seatbelt--how often do you need to wear one?? Most would say everyday but really you only need a seatbelt when you get into an accident. If you don't get into an accident, then you don't need a seatbelt. The problem is that we don't know when that accident is ging to happen so we prepare for the worse by wearing seatbelts everytime we drive. Same with the use of any tobacco products--Wouldn't it be nice if we knew what our genetic weak link is, so that we could avoid those substances and environmental hazards that will increase our personal risk. What it boils down to is what is the risk an individual is willing to take. By switching to smokeless, there may be a reduction in some types of cancers but there is an increased risk for oral cancers. Regardless of the form, tobacco is a dangerous product. As a 20 year cancer thrivor (I did much more than just survive), I choose to eliminate as many known risks as I am able. The use of addictive substances usually is to satisfy an emotional or spiritual need. I advocate addressing the emotional or spiritual need rather than the use of addictive substances. The tobacco companies used this same philosophy when they came out with low tar and nicotine cigarettes but we found out that they didn't reduce the health risks at all but millions of smokers switched instead of quitting altogether and they health suffered for it. So instead of switching to smokeless, the best thing for you health is to embrace a tobacco free life and enjoy your better health.

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