Thursday, April 11, 2024

Harm Reduction in the U.S.: Center Stage (Narcotics) and End Stage (Tobacco)


The International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) “is a global network that works collectively to promote person-centred, rights-affirming drug policies at the national, regional and international levels.”  The IDPC published a summary of the 67th session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which ended March 22, reporting that “member states resorted to voting on resolutions for the first time in modern history, and finally included the words ‘harm reduction.’”

The entire summary is worth reading, but I want to point out what it describes as a transformative moment for American representatives:

“All eyes then turned to the overdose prevention resolution from the USA – signalling their 180-degree transformation on harm reduction at the UN, driven by the appalling human toll of a domestic overdose epidemic (quite a shift given that, for decades, the USA have been the most vociferous barrier to this term being accepted in Vienna).”

Yes, you read that correctly.  Due to drug overdose deaths totaling over 100,000 every year, per the CDC, the U.S. is finally endorsing harm reduction for opioids and other killers.

With that turnaround, you might think that the Biden administration would consider harm reduction for cigarettes, which have killed 480,000 users every year for decades.  Like those smokers, you would be dead wrong.



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