Imagine the following.
A car company considers offering reinforced side panels as an additional safety component that customers can have for a price. An outside agency steps in and discourages them in part because the cars already have airbags and seat belts. But the overwhelming reason is “people won’t buy them”.
Though in that example, if the company has invested a substantial amount in developing the panels, the not buying could translate into an uncomfortable financial position for the company, the lack of purchase says nothing about the actual value of the panels, or of having that option.
Tobacco harm reduction is about providing those options whether or not people take them. Its more about choice than it is about action. If the alternative actually works (as using smokeless tobacco or e-cigarettes fundamentally lower risk) then it should be available. And whether it works is the more valid measure rather than whether it becomes popular.
Our old “friend” Stanton Glantz is one of the co-authors of a recent paper in Tobacco Control which argues (and not for the first time) against promoting smokeless tobacco as a harm reduction strategy on the basis that it won’t be successful. Not that it won’t save some lives but because not enough people will do it.
Now if Glantz et al believe their conclusions, then they should also argue that trying to get people to quit smoking should be abandoned because not enough of them are succeeding at it.
– Paul L. Bergen