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GFN: Quit Or Die No Longer An Option

‘Quit or die’ no longer the only option for 1.1bn smokers worldwide: role of safer nicotine products to be discussed at ninth Global Forum on Nicotine in Warsaw

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‘Quit or die’ no longer the only option for 1.1bn smokers worldwide say the organisers of the Global Forum on Nicotine. The ninth Global Forum on Nicotine takes place in Warsaw this week where experts will be discussing the role of safer nicotine products like electronic cigarettes.

As the UK Government-commissioned Khan Review recommends the government “embrace the promotion of vaping as an effective tool to help people to quit smoking tobacco”, over 50 international experts and people with experience of using a wide range of safer alternatives to cigarettes are set to speak in front of hundreds of delegates in Warsaw at the ninth annual Global Forum on Nicotine (#GFN22).

Taking place from today, 16 - 18 June, the Global Forum on Nicotine is the only international conference to focus on the role of safer nicotine products that help people switch away from smoking. Delegates both onsite and online will hear medical professionals, policymakers, academics and people who have switched away from smoking speak on the conference theme, Tobacco harm reduction - here for good. Harm reduction is an evidence-based public health approach grounded in human rights, consisting of pragmatic actions that reduce health risks by, for example, providing access to safer forms of products or substances.

Safer nicotine products include nicotine vapes, nicotine pouches, oral tobaccos such as Swedish-style snus, and heated tobacco products. 1.1 billion people around the world smoke to use nicotine, 80% of whom live in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Nicotine itself is a comparatively low-risk substance, but because thousands of toxic chemicals are inhaled when tobacco burns, smoking is the world’s leading cause of non-communicable disease, with 8 million deaths each year. All safer nicotine products deliver nicotine without the combustion of tobacco and multiple independent scientific studies show this reduces the harms significantly in comparison to smoking.

Co-founder of the conference Paddy Costall said: “Smokers used to have one option: quit or die - but science has moved on. The experiences of tens of millions of people around the world who have successfully quit smoking by switching to safer products attest to this. Sadly, many of the key players in tobacco control, including the World Health Organization, are unwilling or unable to accept these new routes to smoking cessation. This must change.

“The Global Forum on Nicotine provides an important opportunity for discussion, debate and information-sharing among a global community who, despite many obstacles, remain committed to the ultimate goal of tobacco harm reduction - to accelerate the end of smoking-related death and disease.”

An estimated 82 million people now vape around the world, with a further 30 million using other safer nicotine products; many will have completely quit smoking by switching. Yet access to these products is not universal; 36 countries have banned vapes, 39 have banned the sale of snus and 14 have banned the sale of heated tobacco - while not one country bans the sale of deadly combustible cigarettes. Many governments do not regulate the safer nicotine market, putting consumers at risk from poor quality or black-market products. And in many places, particularly in LMICs, safer alternatives are significantly more expensive than deadly cigarettes.

Unlike most events that operate in the intersections between public health and tobacco and nicotine policy, the organisers ensure that people who have switched from smoking to safer nicotine products participate, as well as safer nicotine product manufacturers. Both groups are routinely excluded from most international meetings and events, despite both playing a critical role in informing and shaping the debates around safer nicotine products and tobacco harm reduction.

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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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