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THR SUMMIT Success in SPAIN 2023

THR SUMMIT SPAIN 2023 was declared a success despite the actions of the Spanish Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation which attempted to curtail debate

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THR SUMMIT SPAIN 2023 was declared a success despite the actions of the Spanish Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation which attempted to curtail debate. Consumer group ETHRA’s Damian Sweeney spoke for all when he said: “A huge congratulations to Carmen and everyone involved in the summit. You faced down the bullies that attempted to silence you and put on a fantastic conference.”

THR SUMMIT SPAIN 2023 EPPUR SI MUOVE saw international experts reject vetoes and censorship and call for an open debate based on science to combat smoking in Spain

  • The national and international experts attending this meeting defend all the science that exists around harm reduction and recall how countries such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand incorporate this tool in their smoking plans. 
  • The Spanish Government must regulate in a sensible manner and listen to the views of the whole scientific community, and must not be afraid of investigating all products which have the potential to reduce harm”, stated Dr Fagerstrom, creator of the Fagerstrom test, which is used in tobacco cessation clinics.

Spain needs more than ever to open a debate on how to advance in the fight against smoking and not stigmatise or veto, as we have done lately, those who think differently", said Dr Fernando Fernández Bueno, spokesperson for the Platform for Smoking Harm Reduction and oncology surgeon at the Gómez Ulla Hospital, at the opening of the conference.

The online meeting brought together national and international experts to discuss what smoking harm reduction is and how useful it is in the fight against smoking. It was followed by more than 700 people who connected both from Spain and from more than 15 other countries. 

Dr Bueno thanked all the experts for their participation in the event and their commitment to the fight against smoking and explained what had happened over the last few days and the reason for this meeting.

The initial idea was to hold a face-to-face Conference at the Rey Juan Carlos University with the collaboration of different organisations. However, pressures from the General Directorate of Public Health of the Ministry of Health and from anti-vaping lobbies led them to withdraw their support.

"Even so, we wanted to organise this event so that people can debate and learn how to advance in the fight against smoking as other countries have done, based on scientific evidence," explained the Platform spokesperson.

It is precisely our commitment to science and freedom of opinion that has led us to call this meeting “Eppur si muove” (and yet it moves),” recalling the words said by Galileo Galilei during his trial for his theory that the Earth revolves around the Sun. 

During the conference, the latest scientific advances and international experiences in harm reduction were analysed, as well as new studies that support their effectiveness as a complementary tool to prevention and cessation in the fight against smoking.

Among them, for example, the latest review by the UK Department of Health and Social Care, which maintains that, in the short and medium term, vaping represents a small fraction of the risks of smoking and that there is significantly less exposure to harmful substances from vaping compared to smoking, in biomarkers of cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

Attendees also heard about the latest findings from Cochrane Reviews, the gold standard in evidence-based medicine, that concludes there is high certainty evidence that nicotine-containing e-cigarettes aid smoking cessation, evidence that is reflected in the significant reduction in smoking rates that the UK has seen in recent years.

In addition, at the international level, New Zealand has passed - and will soon enforce- a ban on tobacco purchases for those born after 2008 while, to get many people to quit smoking, the harm reduction strategy of promoting e-cigarettes to adult smokers continues, with also very noticeable declines in smoking rates since then.

The event consisted of two international panels and one national panel.

The first one, entitled “Scientific evidence on tobacco harm reduction, what do we know so far?”

The second panel, also international, addressed the regulatory challenges of harm reduction under the title “The war on nicotine: regulation, international experience and consequences for public health” and was moderated by David Sweanor, Chairman of the Advisory Committee, Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa.

Finally, a national panel was held under the title “An urgent strategy for a smoke-free generation. Consequences of the denialism of THR science by the Spanish authorities”. It was hosted by Josep Maria Ramon-Torrell, Head of the Tobacco Prevention Service at

Bellvitge University Hospital.

Dr Fernández Bueno closed the meeting. During his speech, he highlighted the commitment of all the members of the Platform and of the doctors and scientists who took part in the conference in the fight against smoking.

All those who have taken part in this conference and those of us who are part of the Platform are here to help and, because of this, we place ourselves at the disposal of the authorities in the fight against smoking,” Dr Bueno concluded.  

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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