Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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As India survives & revives in a post pandemic world, an important cornerstone is public health, safety & security. The progressive way forward to that is building an ecosystem embedded in research, science & technology innovations that provide consumers with the infrastructure, resources, choices and policy that support their health and safeguard risk.

One such directional move is to rid the country of the deadly habit of smoking. Smoking is proven to be a behavioral disorder dangerous to health. A person addicted to it, doesn’t only suffer the obvious alarming health risk, but is also burdened by acute psychological impact through societal pressure.  In cases where is remains to be a long standing habit, abstinence requires tremendous willpower, which sadly many users don’t have and are hence unable to quit even though they desperately want to! In such an eventuality what supports a willing quitter is the availability of cessation or reduced harm/risk alternative products, which are medically sanctioned. Better health is everyone’s prerogative and the first step to enable legal age smoker to have a healthier life & lifestyle. Any addiction is not just an individual problem but one that the entire family succumbs to and having these alternatives to a deadly cigarette is a strong advantage from circumventing the user to get back onto the stick and be resilient.

At a recent panel discussion by the Economic Times Dr. Rohan Savio Sequeira, Hon. Consultant Physician to the Governor of Maharashtra, Senior Consultant Physician at Jaslok Hospital, St Elizabeth Hospital, S.L. Raheja Hospital, and Holy Family Hospital and Jaspreet Bindra, Founder – Tech Whisperer (UK) Author – The Tech Whisperer looked at aspects bridging the gap between buyers and sellers and offering safer alternatives compared to addictive products and services as a choice in an innovation-driven economy.

Dr. Rohan Savio Sequeira observed that harm reduction has always been the cornerstone of every kind of addictive behaviour whether it is cigarette smoking or whether it’s liquid in addiction or for that matter of fact any form of addiction harm reduction has always been the key objective. “People have always had a tendency to continue whatever they are doing because it’s very difficult to break a habit. With regards to nicotine, due to its addictive nature and its psychosomatic features that are associated with smoking tobacco or consuming nicotine in any form, this forms a very strong chemical-based reaction in people’s brains which give them a very tough time in giving up something which is giving satisfaction. At a chemical and a molecular level in the brain, it’s almost like breaking software embedded into a structure. In that sense, policies should be in sync with these chemical physiological and psychological changes and produce a policy which allows an individual to adapt to that policy, and gradually taper it off to see addiction.

According to me, policies have not factored in the chemical and physiological changes that go through a person. Hence, it would be very important for any policy decision making commentary or association to understand this and have a proper discussion to bring those things on board.”

He added that it was important to understand, however, is that clinical research and harm reduction studies have shown it to be a 90 to 95 percent safer alternative for an individual. The healthcare expert emphasised the importance of regulation. Harm reduction based on a prescription may be enabled with the pharmacy infrastructure, as is the case in other nations.

In the future, addiction appears treatable but coexists with effective digital health initiatives that will aid in raising awareness of harm reduction techniques. The solution to addiction may lie in raising awareness and educating people using the latest technological advancements for future generations.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members