More than 300 gathered last week in Warsaw, Poland, at the third Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN). The annual conference is focused on nicotine science and policy, with much attention paid to the potential of vaping to reduce smoking harm. This year’s theme was “Evidence, Accountability and Transparency.” This conference is known for its diversity of opinion — but it was also diverse nationally. There were attendees representing 55 countries.
The conference was preceeded by the European premiere of the documentary A Billion Lives (reviewed for Vaping360 by conference attendee Fergus Mason). Following the showing of the film, director Aaron Biebert helped the organizers deliver the Advocate of the Year awards, which went to Clive Bates, Leicester Stop Smoking Service manager Louise Ross, and Stefan Didak, founder of Not Blowing Smoke.
This year’s conference was chaired by David Sweanor, an adjunct law professor at the University of Ottawa, and a well-known tobacco control expert. Slides from many of the presentations are available at the GFN website, and videos will be added to Jon Derricott’s YouTube channel. Speakers included experts from public health, scientists, doctors, tobacco industry representatives, harm reduction advocates and vapers.
Marewa Glover delivers the keynote speech
The keynote speech — called the Michael Russell Memorial Oration, after the famed British psychiatrist and smoking researcher — was delivered by Prof. Marewa Glover of Massey University in New Zealand. “Pioneering with compassion: Focusing technology to reduce tobacco-related disease & harm globally” was the topic, and Prof. Glover delivered with the passion and insight that have made her a favorite among nicotine and vaping advocates.
New international consumer advocacy group planned
An exciting development was a meeting of consumer advocates, with the intention of launching an international organization to promote nicotine rights. According to a discussion paper circulated before the meeting, a goal of the new group is to gain recognition from the United Nations and the World Health Organization, and advocate there.
Principles are more important than details at the international level, for example an acceptance that nicotine is a relatively benign substance and significantly less harmful than smoked tobacco. Once this principle is agreed at the international level, it can be used to influence policy and regulation at local and national levels.