Francesco Mosconi discusses the economics of switching to traditional smoking alternatives

In cooperation with the University of Oxford, Brunel University London hosted the Annual Health Economics and Policy event, which was held in the British capital London, with the participation of university professors and experts in public health and economics from around the world.

The forum observed extensive discussions on the growing threats posed by cigarette smoking to public health, as the number of deaths caused by smoking exceeds those caused by alcohol, drugs, road accidents, and AIDS combined, despite the emergence of a series of innovations that contribute to reducing the smoking risks, such as heated tobacco products, and others.

The attendees discussed the importance of promoting the use of innovative smoke-free products, such as e-cigarettes, heated tobacco devices, and others, to open a new era in reducing the risks of tobacco use, and to provide an alternative for adult smokers who do not want to quit smoking. This would contribute to changing traditional smoking habits and alleviating the negative effects on public health while emphasizing that these innovative products are not entirely risk-free.

The forum’s activities included affirmations from university professors and public health experts that burning tobacco through traditional cigarettes is the main cause of smoking-related diseases. Therefore, the importance of moving towards a smoke-free future in the tobacco industry becomes clear. Countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand, and Sweden have successfully adopted these new strategies with more flexible policies that have helped encourage the transition to harm-reduction products.

For his part, Francesco Moscone, Professor of Business Administration at Brunel University stated the potential economic benefits of smokers transitioning to less harmful products, such as e-cigarettes, noting that if 50% of smokers in England – for example – switched to using innovative products, it could save around half a billion pounds annually, and would also contribute to increasing healthcare for people from smoking-related diseases.

Catia Nicodemo, Professor of Health Economics at the University of Oxford, shed light on the severe consequences of smoking on both individual health and the economies of various societies. She emphasized that the combined costs of smoking, coupled with other harmful practices and habits, account for approximately 3.6% of Britain’s GDP, which equals to around 90 billion pounds. Recognizing this significant burden, the British government is actively pursuing measures to safeguard public health.

Nicodemo” added that taxing traditional tobacco products as a means to combat their harmful effects and reduce their prevalence could disproportionately impact lower-income individuals. Consequently, alternative solutions, such as promoting harm-reduction products like e-cigarettes, counter the prevalence of traditional smoking.

Another interesting point of view was that of Ae Sun Shin, an expert in Preventive Medicine at Seoul National University, who provided an in-depth analysis of the challenges and opportunities related to public health in Korea, emphasizing the importance of preventive strategies and targeted interventions to address the growing challenges related to the aging population and chronic diseases.

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