PMI Head of Scientific Engagement, Ignacio Gonzalez Suarez, said this recently during a virtual meeting with African Reporters Network for Harm Reduction.
Suarez assured African countries whose economies rely on tobacco as their major foreign exchange earner like Malawi, that smoke-free technologies will still require tobacco.
“The new products are a great opportunity for tobacco growing countries… they will still be required to produce these products since these products need tobacco for production just that it is tobacco with no smoke,” he said.
Even though Malawi has very few smokers, it is one of the five major tobacco producers in southern Africa alongside Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Director of External Affairs at Pan African Entrepreneurs, Haurouna Ly also guaranteed that livelihoods are not at stake in tobacco growing countries like Malawi, but this may add value in the production chain.
“There are one billion smokers out there and they will continue smoking. We just have to provide them with less risky alternatives but be assured that livelihoods of tobacco growing countries are safe,” he said.
World over, there are running battles on the benefits of having people quit smoking altogether, while others are insisting that the smoking addiction cannot be stopped at once, hence the harm reduction interventions.
PMI says there is a range of smoke-free alternative products such as heated tobacco products, Sinus and vapour products that may be used.
These products use tobacco but they are smoke-free.
Chief Executive Officer for Tobacco Commission, Joseph Chidanti-Malunga told MBC Exclusive Program recently that Malawi tobacco has a future.
“I will tell you that there is a trace of Malawi tobacco in any good brand in the world. So there is a future for Malawi tobacco,” he said.
MBC has learnt that electronic smoking products are currently in use in over 70 countries worldwide. South Africa is the only African country that introduced smoke-free products.
Tobacco is Malawi’s major foreign exchange earner. As of September 2021, according to Tobacco Commission, Malawi had earned $197 million from this year’s tobacco sales.