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THR on Primary Care Today

The Primary Care Today podcast interviews David Sweanor about Tobacco Harm Reduction.

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Dr. Brian McDonough is a nationally recognised clinical expert, teacher, and public speaker in primary care, and winner of four Emmy Awards, earned over a twenty-five year in television as a medical editor/reporter, including work at Fox and NBC. In a recent Primary Care Today podcast, McDonough spoke to David Sweanor about Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR).

Primary Care Today is a series of podcasts that feature conversations with clinical experts representing a wide range of medical specialties to highlight the latest trends in primary care practice, from clinical pearls to updated guidelines, health informatics, and practice management.

Vapers will recognise David Sweanor’s name as he has been an outspoken advocate of tobacco harm reduction – and championing the role electronic cigarettes can play in that. The lawyer from the University of Ottawa has worked globally on tobacco and health policy advocacy issues for over 30 years, working with companies and organisations including the International Union Against Cancer, World Health Organisation, World Bank and the Pan American Health Organisation.

Sweanor explains where his interest in THR originated: “I was going through law school while my wife was going through medical school, and my wife would be telling me about the amount of people dying from cigarettes. Like everybody else, I knew it was bad but I had no idea of the carnage.”

He demanded to know why, if they knew the scale of the problem, why the medical community wasn’t doing more to prevent this taking place: “’David’, they said to me, ‘you don’t get it. Figuring out why people are getting sick is a scientific problem – dealing with it is a social-legal-political problem’.”

From initially planning on spending a couple of years dedicating himself to reducing the harm caused by tobacco, here he is 35 years later still battling away. Ultimately, change in society comes from a political struggle, Sweanor explains, and that how we deal with societal problems comes down to lawyers creating legislation.

McDonough admitted that the medical community is a very poor advocate for patient’s health. He wonders if doctors get in the way of improving people’s lives. Sweanor uses the analogy that if somebody has fallen off a cliff then they have an immediate need for someone to fix their broken bones, “but, at some point, somebody has to go to the top of that cliff and put up a fence – because that’s the problem.”

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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