There is broad support across the country for policymakers to take aggressive action provide alternatives that will lower smoking rates in Kenya. This is according to a survey that shows Kenyans want life-saving alternative nicotine products to be more affordable and available
The vast majority of smokers in Kenya want to use tobacco harm reduction products, such as nicotine pouches or vapes/e-cigarettes, to help them quit traditional cancer-causing cigarettes. Yet almost three in four people find these innovative life-saving products too expensive or difficult to get hold of, and almost all would stop using them if Government increased their price.
These are the disturbing findings of a new survey by the Campaign for Safer Alternatives (CASA). The results demonstrate the urgent need for our regulators to treat nicotine pouches and vapes/e-cigarettes as an essential and effective tool in the battle to save more of the 8,100 Kenyan lives lost to tobacco-caused disease every year. Evidence-based global research shows that nicotine pouches and vapes/ e-cigarettes are about 95% less harmful than cigarettes.
They are also proven to be helping more adult smokers to quit successfully than Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products such as lozenges, gums, and patches, which are on the WHO’s list of essential medicines. Yet activists in Kenya demand stricter regulations, exaggerate the health risks of nicotine alternatives and largely ignore the potential benefits of nicotine pouches and vaping for adults who smoke.
CASA’s survey gives a voice to the silent victims in this debate – the general public, including many smokers who are desperate to kick their deadly habit. Nine out of 10 respondents in the survey say they have used traditional tobacco in some form, yet almost two-thirds want to quit. Almost all think nicotine pouches or vapes/e-cigarettes will give them the best chance of doing so successfully.
Joseph Magero, Chair of Campaign for Safer Alternatives added, ‘our survey has finally given a voice to the silent victims in Kenya’s debate over alternative nicotine products – the general public, and smokers in particular. Too often smokers are excluded from decision-making about the products that could ultimately save their lives.’
‘At last, they have been given a say and their message is clear: nicotine pouches and vapes/e-cigarettes offer them their best hope of kicking the addiction that threatens to kill them. However, a large proportion of smokers find these lifesaving products too expensive or too hard to find. If taxes make them even more expensive, they would be forced to seek out cheaper– and often more dangerous – alternatives’ he concluded.
Many smokers experience nicotine pouches to be a good substitute to cigarettes and vaporizers instead of W.H.O recommended nicotine gum or nicotine patches. Instead of adopting a dogmatic, unscientific stance against tobacco harm reduction, Kenya should be embracing it as an exciting opportunity to save thousands of lives lost to cigarettes.