“We need dialogue to get people talking about these issues,” Sweanor explains to Stafford, “to do what we could do about the health costs of smoking.”
He was speaking in reference to The Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) Dialogue event that took place in Vancouver, Canada, in April. It was a free opportunity to discuss and debate the topics connected to tobacco harm-reduction. One of the notable speakers was Professor Gerry Stimson, professor emeritus, Imperial College, London.
Stafford lamented that it took a visit by advocates and experts from Britain to force the topic of vaping to be debated in British Colombia. Sweanor responded: “We have people from the BC Ministry of Health who did everything they could to scuttle it, to prevent the conversation from happening.”
Sweanor states that ministry officials said they weren’t going to attend the GFN event. Moreover, the officials were opposed to the event taking place at all. “They were saying some really defamatory things about Gerry Stimson,” Sweanor continued. “There was this really awful character assassination – and I think it’s causing discomfort. There are people who feel ‘if we could just treat vaping like smoking we’re just going to get everybody to quit’. When people come in with the credentials that Gerry and other people do on drug harm reduction then we really need to have this discussion.”
“If we can force it onto the agenda, get people to actually think about it, to have to justify the positions that they’re taking, then I think we can change policy” - David Sweanor
Sweanor described Stimson as being one of the “leading authorities on drug harm reduction in the world”, and spoke warmly about how he is very highly regarded by all who know of him.
The accusations thrown at Stimson by The British Colombia Ministry of Health, as described on the video below, are truly shocking.
Sweanor goes on to talk about the motivations behind this ridiculous opposition to vaping: “Innovation is invariably opposed for various reasons. Very seldom is it opposed on rational grounds.”
The full interview is very interesting and strongly recommended if you have seven minutes spare.