The controversy of tobacco harm reduction in the United States persists despite evidence that an important audience of tobacco prevention and control, i.e., the people who use or are likely to use nicotine and tobacco products, are engaging in practices that may be considered harm reduction. Despite this, a significant proportion of the US tobacco control and prevention field continues to be guided by a precept that there is “no safe tobacco,” therefore failing to acknowledge practices that may be used to reduce the harms associated with consuming combustible forms of nicotine and tobacco. In this commentary, we argue that ignoring the potential benefits of harm reduction strategies may unintentionally lead to an erosion of trust in tobacco control among some members of the public. Trust in tobacco control as an institution is crucial for the success of tobacco control efforts. To ensure trust, we must return to our basic principles of doing no harm, developing programs that are responsive to people’s experiences, and providing resources in assisting people to reduce the harms that may be associated with practices, such as smoking, which adversely affect health. Only by respecting an individual’s priorities can we cultivate trust and develop tobacco prevention efforts that are grounded in the realities of people’s lives and responsive to their needs.
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