A new survey by Philip Morris International (PMI) has shown support for a balanced approach to tobacco regulation, one that brings together all voices and encourages incremental progress on harm reduction.
According to the survey of more than 44,000 adults in 22 countries, conducted by independent research firm Povaddo, 77 percent says that the too-often-ignored perspectives of those most directly impacted need to be included in regulatory discussions.
Three in four also agreed that societal expectations of total abstinence from substances such as nicotine and alcohol are not feasible, calling on the governments to take steps to reduce the harm of their use.
In addition, nearly similar number (72%) think that their governments need to consider the role alternative products can play in making their countries smoke-free.
“If we are to address the challenges we face as a society in a meaningful and expeditious way, a more balanced and inclusive approach is required,” said Gregoire Verdeaux, senior vice president for external affairs at PMI.
“This includes policy decisions that consider first and foremost the people who are most impacted—ensuring their voices are heard and their needs are met—and then bringing all relevant parties to the table, including subject matter experts, private companies, civil society leaders, and others who can contribute to solving the issues at hand.”
The survey revealed a strong consensus that finding a middle ground on contentious issues can drive incremental policy change and enable progress.
According to the survey, 90 percent of respondents believe that to solve the most pressing societal challenges, leaders need to consider all perspectives, even those that run counter to their own, and 88 percent said they would be more likely to vote for leaders who listen to all sides of an issue and adopt sensible approaches that better the lives of ordinary people.
Currently, less than a third of adults surveyed (31 percent) believe their views are reflected in the way their governments are addressing critical issues.
People also want companies and business leaders to help drive change, with 85 percent of respondents believing that citizens and companies working together will have a more meaningful impact and 77 percent welcoming corporate involvement in addressing major issues.
Verdeaux added: “In countries across the world, citizens are tired of policymaking logjams and eager for constructive change. In the area of tobacco harm reduction, PMI has long advocated for a sensible approach that prioritizes the interests of current adult smokers and public health. By having balanced and inclusive discussions about the science behind better alternatives and adopting a more people-centric approach, we can accelerate the end of cigarettes. More than a billion people continue to smoke. We must—and can—do better, and that starts with open, fact-based dialogue.”
The survey comes as an independent review into tobacco controls, commissioned by the UK government, last week recommended the legal age of sale for tobacco products in England be raised by one year every year until eventually no one can buy such products.
The review, led by Dr Javed Khan, also recommended promotion of vaping as a substitute for smoking to ensure England achieves its “smoke free 2030” target.