ERS cannot support these products and “harm reduction” as a population-based strategy
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Lung health experts update their position on novel nicotine and tobacco products and their role in tobacco control and “harm reduction”

The European Respiratory Society (ERS) has issued an updated position statement on novel nicotine and tobacco products, maintaining that it cannot recommend “harm reduction” as a population-based strategy to reduce smoking and aid quitting. The statement outlines that there is not sufficient evidence to support the tobacco industry’s claim that such products contribute to “harm reduction”, and that such claims are simply exploited by the tobacco industry for financial gain.

Since the previous ERS statement on this topic was issued in 2019, understanding of novel tobacco products has grown; accumulating evidence indicates that these products have the potential to contribute to the development of chronic diseases in humans.

The updated statement continues to question the arguments for harm reduction, adding that evidence shows legitimate concern around the long-term health risks of novel products, and highlighting that much of the evidence around harm reduction comes, directly or indirectly, from the tobacco industry, which has a track record of manipulating science to further financial interests.

ERS maintains a firm position that all nicotine and tobacco products are highly addictive and harmful, and that quitting smoking entirely is still the best option.

When cessation aids are required, it is preferable to use evidence-based interventions, such as Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) or tobacco cessation medications. Evidence suggests that users of novel nicotine and tobacco products often continue to use traditional cigarettes concurrently, rather than using them as a replacement. Further to this, evidence highlights that even if using novel nicotine and tobacco products can help some existing smokers to quit, they also contribute to nicotine addiction and smoking uptake in young people, leading to an overall negative effect on a population level.

ERS spokesperson on this topic, and Chair of the ERS Tobacco Control Committee, Dr Filippos Filippidis emphasised:

“The argument that novel tobacco products contribute to harm reduction at the population level lacks sufficient independent evidence. Their potential lung damaging effects, and concerning uptake amongst young people, means that ERS cannot support novel tobacco products and harm reduction as a population-based strategy.

“ERS encourages delegates currently participating in the tenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to consider the population impact of these products as they discuss the future of tobacco control.”


Contact for further information:

Notes to editors:

European Respiratory Society statement on novel nicotine and tobacco products, their role in tobacco control and “harm reduction”:

2019 European Respiratory Journal article: ERS and tobacco harm reduction:


ERS position paper on heated tobacco products:  


About the European Respiratory Society (ERS):

ERS is one of the leading medical organisations in the respiratory field, with a growing membership of over 35,000 respiratory clinicians, scientists and allied healthcare professionals, spanning more than 160 countries worldwide. ERS prioritises science, education and advocacy in order to promote lung health, alleviate suffering from disease and drive standards for respiratory medicine globally.

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