Smoking has been proven to cause great morbidity and mortality from cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, myocardial infarction, stroke, and multiple other diseases. This known, nearly a quarter of adults in the U.S. still smoke and smoking among adolescents is gradually increasing.
Currently, various products are available and being developed that are intended to reduce tobacco and tobacco smoke exposure and potentially reduce the risk of disease compared to conventional tobacco products. In light of the increased development and marketing of these products, an IOM committee was asked to consider how these products should be evaluated for their potential effect on individual and public health.
The committee addressed this charge in a report titled Clearing the Smoke: Assessing the Science Base for Tobacco Harm Reduction. The report assesses the effect of these types of products in reducing tobacco-related exposure, the actual health benefits, if any, from the use of these products, the existence of surrogate markers of effect that could be used in a time frame optimal for product evaluation, and the public health effects from the use of these products. The report recommends a comprehensive approach of improving education and communication for the public utilizing scientific research, surveillance, and regulatory guidelines in order to effectively address these concerns.