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The Global Forum for Nicotine

The third Global Forum on Nicotine was held in late June in Warsaw.

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The third Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) took place in Warsaw, Poland, at the end of last month. The conference takes place annually and brings together international experts and commentators. This year saw 350 attendees coming from fifty-five countries to listen to the forty speakers.

Those present were fortunate to be able to see the European premiere of the “A Billion Lives” film made by Aaron Biebert. Rooted in the World Health Organisation’s prediction of the number of lives that will be lost to smoking-related diseases, it tackles how big business and bad politics stand to prolong the danger posed by cigarettes.

Introducing the theme of this year’s conference Evidence, Accountability and Transparency, GFN coordinator Professor Gerry Stimson said: “most smokers say they want to quit smoking but very few actually succeed because of the difficulties involved. For the vast majority who can't give up their habit, alternative, less harmful, nicotine delivery system that does not involve burning tobacco has to be made available.”

Doctor Konstantinos Farsalinos spoke about how cod science is replacing proper peer-reviewed research. A case in point is the proliferation of studies claiming to have found excessive quantities of formaldehyde in vape: “It ‘s like roasting a piece of meat until it was absolutely black and inedible and then complaining about the nature of meat. But low levels of formaldehyde are in the air we breathe, the amount you inhale from an e-cigarette is no more than you would sitting at home watching the TV.”

Ibra Wane, a Senegalese public health specialist said: “In Senegal, 500,000 men and women use tobacco products, (3.8 % of the total population of 13 million). 11% of Senegalese men and 1.2% of women smoke. The most commonly used type of tobacco is a manufactured cigarette. In comparison to smoking tobacco, smokeless tobacco and other alternatives are used by very few Senegalese (0.7%).”

Nasser Loza, an Egyptian doctor based in Cairo, added: “e-cigarettes are available in a very limited context at the moment, we are a low middle income country and we've had our share of political and economic upheavals in recent years so at the moment they are not available. We hope that will change soon. We are hoping to be able to take the message back and say we need to do something about it.”

The conference wasn’t just for experts, as Obaid Aljassim from the United Arab Emirates proved: “e-cigarettes are banned in the UAE for the time being, that's why I'm attending a scientific conference to know more, to have a scientific understanding of new nicotine delivering systems and how they work including other lower risk alternatives. People who decide to continue smoking can now be offered less harmful alternatives to smoking.”

Harry Shapiro, attending for the first time, noted: “If there was one over-riding emotion in the room it was passion: the vaping community feels under siege from the hostile forces around them and as ex-smokers, they are understandably outraged at attempts to prevent them from actually leading more healthy lives.”

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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