Tobacco: Control or Eradicate? – Podcast with David Sweanor and Bill Savedoff

May 31, 2016

A billion premature deaths this century—that’s the estimated toll of smoking. As 80% of the world’s smokers live in low- to middle-income countries, that’s a huge problem for the developing world. That's a lot of not only lost lives but also lost economic output, and increased strain on already-overburdened health budgets.  

So what’s the solution? You’ve heard before from CGD senior fellow Bill Savedoff that increasing tobacco taxes can actually help turn people away from nicotine; on this week’s podcast for World No Tobacco Day, you’ll hear another idea. 

University of Ottawa professor David Sweanor, who helped develop Canada’s tobacco control laws, believes that smokers should be encouraged to switch to less harmful nicotine delivery systems, like e-cigarettes. But does switching our focus to harm reduction mean letting go of the “endgame”—a completely tobacco-free future? 

That’s the question that Sweanor and Savedoff tackle in this week’s podcast. In the clip below, Sweanor argues that nicotine itself is not particularly hazardous. But, Savedoff asks, if “puffing” on e-cigarettes becomes the norm, will that undo all the progress we’ve made towards eradication? 


You can listen to the full podcast at the top of this page. For more, be sure to check out Savedoff’s recent blog post “Tobacco Control or Eradication: Are ENDS part of an endgame?” 


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.