Reducing harm from tobacco use

J Psychopharmacol. 2013 Jan;27(1):13-8. doi: 10.1177/0269881112458731. Epub 2012 Oct 3.


If current trends in smoking prevalence continue, even with the implementation of enhanced tobacco control measures, millions of smokers will continue to fall ill and die as a direct result of their smoking. Many of these will be from the most deprived groups in society - smoking continues to be one of the strongest drivers of health inequalities. The personal costs of this morbidity and mortality, as well as costs to business and the economy, are unequalled and will therefore remain high for several decades to come. However, there is an addition to the tobacco control armoury that could have a marked impact on public health, but it requires radical action to be taken. This would be to embrace harm reduction, but this approach is as controversial in the case of tobacco as it is in the case of illicit drugs from where it derives. However, harm reduction remains the Cinderella of the three major strategies for reducing smoking-related harm, the others being prevention and cessation. Here we make the case that harm reduction has an important role to play in reducing the health burden of tobacco use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Harm Reduction*
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / adverse effects
  • Public Health / methods
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Tobacco / adverse effects*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / prevention & control*


  • Illicit Drugs