Discussion Reveals Abuse of THR Advocates

Posted 19th July 2021 by Dave Cross
Discussion held on The Advocates’ Voice revealed the level of abuse tobacco harm reduction advocates are suffering at the hands of anti-vaping groups. The full and frank international panel conversation revealed that the public attacks are increasingly personal, derogatory, and defamatory.

Headlined ‘the battle between innovation and bully tactics’, the seventh episode of The Advocates Voice (TAV7) led with public health expert, Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos. It was hosted by Asia Pacific’s Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA).

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Moderated by CAPHRA’s Nancy Loucas, TAV 7 included public relations expert and Medical Observer publisher, Jena Fetalino (Managing Director of JFPRC, Philippines). She believed the abuse levelled at THR advocates and the industry reflected just one thing.

It shows that anti-vaping groups are now running out of arguments to justify their case and resort to defamation to demonize the vaping industry, the nicotine consumers, THR advocates, and THR in general,” said Ms Fetalino.

She encouraged THR advocates not to be silent but to confront ‘fake news’ head on: “They should be direct, straight forward and simple in their response, so that people will understand the issue, no matter how complex it may be.

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Even if the attackers choose to focus on hitting below the belt, we should remain calm and present facts to inform and not to insult… We should be patient enough to clarify the issue by presenting our side, deny inaccurate information and rectify the errors… We should be armed with facts and evidence. In the end, the readers will discern what is true,” she said.

Ms Fetalino said instead of smokers, vapers and THR being demonized, the better story is who prevents smokers from changing, who prevents the tobacco industry from trying to become better, and who wants to block less harmful alternatives.

She was optimistic that opinions on THR will change over time, as ultimately science is on the side of THR.

Mirza Abeer (Director of ASAP Pakistan – Association for Smoking Alternatives in Pakistan), said a new wave of attacks is now being seen.

He described it as a natural progression. “Once THR opponents could no longer attack the science, they would target advocates and consumers. Such attacks must be met with fact-based arguments to break holes in their stories and show you’re not a soft target,” he said.

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Asa Saligupta (Director of ECST - ENDs Cigarette Smoke Thailand) described it as fighting an uphill battle that would further escalate, but one in which consumers must stick together.

If everyone thinks, ‘why bother it’s going to be too difficult’, then nothing’s going to happen…Then again, I look at my health, I came back from quitting smoking and turned to vaping. I look at my friends especially my sons… they quit smoking by vaping… Without Tobacco Harm Reduction, that would not be possible. They have thrived,” said Mr Saligupta.

Concluding the TAV 7 discussion, Dr Farsalinos said: “We need to be patient. We need to be consistent with our principals, with ethics of course, and we should not succumb to extortion. That’s my message.”

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
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