Tobacco (55) Q1. Do people understand the harms of using tobacco products? (19)

13 March, 2023

Eduardo Bianco said eaarly in this discussion: "Just knowing about the damage is not enough. If it were so, no doctor would smoke."

Indeed, knowledge is not enough (although it is undeniably a critical factor), if one selects non-smoking as the end-point. But one can select other end-points. An alternative end-point is that people are well-informed, and what they then do with that information is up to them. Some people are almost completely uninformed about the health risks of smoking; many others (the majority, including many doctors) are partly informed, and only a very tiny minority are 'fully informed'. For me, the biggest tragedy is that people are smoking and dying without ever truly knowing the health risks (and this is especially true of young people as they start to smoke). From a human rights perspective, this is an indictment of the global evidence ecosystem, which is clearly failing to meet people's needs for reliable information (and failing to address disinformation from the tobacco industry).

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of HIFA (Healthcare Information For All), a global health community that brings all stakeholders together around the shared goal of universal access to reliable healthcare information. HIFA has 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting in four languages and representing all parts of the global evidence ecosystem. HIFA is administered by Global Healthcare Information Network, a UK-based nonprofit in official relations with the World Health Organization. Email: