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Minimising the harm from nicotine use: finding the right regulatory framework
  1. Ron Borland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ron Borland, Research Division, The Cancer Council Victoria, 1 Rathdowne St, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia; Ron.Borland{at}


The tobacco problem can be usefully conceptualised as two problems: eliminating the most harmful forms of nicotine use (certainly cigarettes, and probably all smoked tobacco), and minimising the use and/or harms from use of lower-harm, but addictive forms of nicotine. A possible target would be to effectively eliminate use of the most harmful forms of nicotine within the next decade and then turn our focus to a long-term strategy for the low-harm forms. This paper focuses on the administrative framework(s) needed to accomplish these twin tasks. For a phase-out taking a long time and/or for dealing with residually net harmful and addictive products, there are severe limitations to allowing for-profit marketing of tobacco because such an arrangement (the current one in most countries) can markedly slow down progress and because of the difficulty of constraining marketing in ways that minimise undesirable use. A harm reduction model where the marketing is under the control of a non-profit entity (a regulated market) is required to curtail the incredible power of for-profit marketing and to allow tobacco marketing to be done in ways that further the goal of minimising tobacco-related harm. Countries with a nationalised industry can move their industry onto a harm minimisation framework if they have the political will. Countries with a for-profit industry should consider whether the time and effort required to reconstruct the market may, in the longer term, facilitate achieving their policy goals.

  • End game
  • Harm Reduction
  • Illegal tobacco products
  • Public policy

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