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GFN23: Day 1

Covering the highlights from Day 1 of the Global Forum on Nicotine that took place last week in Warsaw, Poland

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The Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) took place in Warsaw, Poland. Celebrating its tenth anniversary, the event opened up to four packed days of workshops and presentations, attended by experts in tobacco harm reduction, advocates and consumers. Day 1 set the agenda for the coming event with packed rooms and busy conversations.

Discussing reducing the environmental impacts, Australian physician and academic Dr Colin Mendelsohn argued that those concerns are being used to further justify opposition to tobacco harm reduction despite being reasonable and justified in themselves.

David Burns, director of Bay Pharma, made the point that disposable vapes do cause environmental impacts. Landfill fires have occurred in Australia when compactors have crushed unstable lithium-ion batteries, something we’ve seen reports of in the UK too.

Pieter Vorster, Managing Director of Idwala Research, suggested that so far, the safer nicotine product industry has focused on making the best possible product for the consumer. Now, issues of sustainability such as lithium being a finite resource must be addressed.

The panel agreed that concerns must be balanced against the damage smoking causes, how vaping reduces it, and problematic cigarette waste solved by switching to vaping.

Over in the Spanish-language symposium, attendees discussed the WHO’s COP10 and the right to harm reduction.

Jeffrey Zamora, President of ASOVAPE Costa Rica and President of ARDT Iberoamerica said: “COP10 will meet on the 25th and 26th November in Panama; historically we know that access to this conference has been denied and consumers have been refused permission to participate. We should be allowed to claim our rights to harm reduction.”

Juan José Cirión, a consumer advocate from Mexico added: “Consumers need access to information, access to products and access to choice.” 

Francisco Ordóñez, the President of ARDT Iberoamerica commented: “Ahead of COP10 in Panama, it is important that we request that our countries allow [consumers] to talk. Delegations should invite their citizens - including consumers - to participate. Although we will probably be told it is not possible, we must ask. It is also important that the COP10 delegations ask other countries, like Sweden and the United Kingdom, to share evidence on how tobacco harm reduction is working for their populations.”

Meanwhile, the workshop considering the medicinal licensing of vaping products heard from ex-New Nicotine Alliance chair, Martin Cullip, who said: “I’m a consumer and when I was a smoker, I wasn’t ill, and I didn’t need treatment. Prescription vapes are a good idea, but I know consumers have a lot of reservations about them. There is this mistrust that once you get prescription vapes, the push will be towards getting rid of the consumer market entirely and having just the prescription route. I know this is something consumers are very, very worried about.

“The prescription model doesn’t deal with the fact that many vapers [who are former smokers], including me, were accidental quitters. I never made a single quit attempt in my life. I tried a vaping product to see what it was like, and I then just forgot to smoke over a number of years. Some smokers wouldn’t consider prescription vapes [as a smoking cessation tool] and if we did end up with no consumer market, then people like me wouldn’t have quit.”

The second Spanish language symposium considered whether health professionals have a moral and ethical duty to promote harm reduction.

Diego Verrastro, spokesperson for the Latin American Network on Tobacco Harm Reduction (RELDAT) said: “As doctors we are in an era of change where we are creating history. When we study medicine, we study Fleming with penicillin. Will the future look at us in that way? Because we're making history. Because we're doctors. Because we want to save lives. Because we don't want to damage people. And sometimes politicians struggle to understand this.”


Photo Credit:

  • Images courtesy of GFN

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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