The eighth annual Global Forum on Nicotine has reached its conclusion, with its second day featuring more discussions from passionate supporters of tobacco harm reduction.
Why has the WHO FCTC failed to reduce adult smoking and its health impact?
The second day commenced with a talk from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World president Derek Yach on the WHO’s approach to smoking cessation.
Yach criticsed the WHO for ignoring the research on THR products, saying:
“This industry has created tools that have the potential to create one of the most profound public health shifts in history.
“The present technological revolution demands an accompanying ideological revolution.”Derek Yach, Foundation for a Smoke-Free World
Tobacco control policy expert Cliff Douglas responded to Yach’s talk by calling the WHO’s current stance ‘an exercise in propaganda’ that could cost lives.
“We must continue to seek genuine common ground wherever possible to end the epidemic caused by combustible tobacco use.”Cliff Douglas
Obstacles to Tobacco Harm Reduction in LMICs
Later, panellists from lower-middle-income countries came together for a discussion on government approach to harm reduction.
Community medicine professor Sree Sucharitha, said:
“The first and foremost barrier for tobacco harm reduction in India is the lack of political will in articulating THR in our national policy and realising its potential in a country with almost 300 million tobacco users”Sree Sucharitha
Tomás O’Gorman, a vape advocate from Mexico, echoed the sentiment and said the government needs to acknowledge the ‘enormous’ possibilities that THR can offer to tobacco users.
Former WHO tobacco-control coordinator Nataliia Toropova said that the lack of reliable data available to policymakers and the general public in former Soviet Union states was to blame for the spread of misinformation, and said that health officials need to back vaping as a quitting tool.
“If the doctors are willing to take up this tool and actually tie it to cessation the way it should be, then this is something we should encourage.”Nataliia Toropova
Joseph Magero of the Campaign for Safer Alternatives said that misinformation was also a major issue in Africa and that research and education was the way forward.
Consumer voices panel
This year’s GFN ended with a ‘consumer voices’ panel, reflecting on issues that had been discussed over the two days.
Jagannath Sarangapani was optimistic about the state of the vape community in India, saying that the ban has slowed down the rate of harm reduction, but not stopped it entirely.
He suggested that vaping has saved lives in India beyond just smokers, saying:
“I have friends who were users of chewing tobacco who have actually found it very convenient to quit with vaping – so that kind of cross-transition does happen.”Jagannath Sarangapani
Peter Stigaard of the Danish Vapers Association spoke about the upcoming flavour ban in Denmark, expressing his concerns that e-cigarette users may attempt to vape unsafe, illicit products if they cannot access the e-liquids they are used to.
Julie Woessner of INNCO was also present, and said:
“The challenge in the US in particular is that it’s becoming a very politicised issue.
“The good news is that we have a lot of advocates.”Julie Woessner, INNCO
Recordings of both days of this year’s GFN are available online in full on YouTube.