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Debunking the claim that abstinence is usually healthier for smokers than switching to a low-risk alternative, and other observations about anti-tobacco-harm-reduction arguments

Overview of attention for article published in Harm Reduction Journal, January 2009
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • Among the highest-scoring outputs from this source (#16 of 563)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (99th percentile)

Mentioned by

blogs
1 blog
twitter
204 tweeters
facebook
21 Facebook pages
wikipedia
2 Wikipedia pages
googleplus
3 Google+ users

Citations

dimensions_citation
15 Dimensions

Readers on

mendeley
55 Mendeley
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Title
Debunking the claim that abstinence is usually healthier for smokers than switching to a low-risk alternative, and other observations about anti-tobacco-harm-reduction arguments
Published in
Harm Reduction Journal, January 2009
DOI 10.1186/1477-7517-6-29
Pubmed ID
Authors

Carl V Phillips

Abstract

Nicotine is so desirable to many people that when they are given only the options of consuming nicotine by smoking, with its high health costs, and not consuming nicotine at all, many opt for the former. Few smokers realize that there is a third choice: non-combustion nicotine sources, such as smokeless tobacco, electronic cigarettes, or pharmaceutical nicotine, which eliminate almost all the risk while still allowing consumption of nicotine. Widespread dissemination of misleading health claims is used to prevent smokers from learning about this lifesaving option, and to discourage opinion leaders from telling smokers the truth. One common misleading claim is a risk-risk comparison that has not before been quantified: A smoker who would have eventually quit nicotine entirely, but learns the truth about low-risk alternatives, might switch to an alternative instead of quitting entirely, and thus might suffer a net increase in health risk. While this has mathematical face validity, a simple calculation of the tradeoff -- switching to lifelong low-risk nicotine use versus continuing to smoke until quitting -- shows that such net health costs are extremely unlikely and of trivial maximum magnitude. In particular, for the average smoker, smoking for just one more month before quitting causes greater health risk than switching to a low-risk nicotine source and never quitting it. Thus, discouraging a smoker, even one who would have quit entirely, from switching to a low-risk alternative is almost certainly more likely to kill him than it is to save him. Similarly, a strategy of waiting for better anti-smoking tools to be developed, rather than encouraging immediate tobacco harm reduction using current options, kills more smokers every month than it could possibly ever save.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 204 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 55 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Netherlands 1 2%
India 1 2%
United Kingdom 1 2%
Canada 1 2%
United States 1 2%
Unknown 50 91%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 11 20%
Student > Bachelor 9 16%
Researcher 7 13%
Other 7 13%
Student > Ph. D. Student 6 11%
Other 9 16%
Unknown 6 11%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 18 33%
Social Sciences 8 15%
Psychology 7 13%
Environmental Science 4 7%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 2 4%
Other 5 9%
Unknown 11 20%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 167. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 12 March 2020.
All research outputs
#97,690
of 14,561,944 outputs
Outputs from Harm Reduction Journal
#16
of 563 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#451
of 110,296 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Harm Reduction Journal
#1
of 1 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 14,561,944 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 99th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 563 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 23.0. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 97% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 110,296 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 1 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has scored higher than all of them