A First for the Global Forum on Nicotine

Thursday marked the launch of the Global Nicotine Forum, taking place online for the first time. Extending across two days, the forum was joined by more than 30 academics, scientists, public policy experts, as well as representatives from the world’s major tobacco manufacturers and distributors. The forum highlighted the future of the tobacco industry as well as the different insights on the heat-not-burn technology which is significantly less damaging to the user than regular cigarettes.

For his part, Dr. Gerry Stimson, conference chairperson, and an honorary professor at Imperial College London, and a former honorary professor at the London School of Health and Tropical Medicine – at the beginning of the conference – said: Reducing tobacco damage is not inconsistent with tobacco control, but rather a  part of it, therefore a culture of transformation to less harmful alternatives needs to be encouraged as it contributes to improving and supporting public health and creates better environments. Stimson also stressed the need for finding commonalities between international organizations for the ultimate aim of adopting a vision that aims to decrease the mortality rate of deaths due to smoking. This number has so far reached 7 million.

For his part, Dr. David Sweanor, from the University of Ottawa’s Center for Health, Policy, and Ethics, who specializes in litigation against tobacco companies, said that smokers around the world, especially in countries such as Norway, Iceland and Japan – countries that allow and codify products with a potential for lowering risk – are turning to Traditional cigarette alternatives, as a result of the availability of such alternatives. Sweanor emphasized that cigarettes and their harm can become of the past when smokers find the right choice, with the latter contributing to an unprecedented qualitative leap in the history of public health.

During the forum’s sessions, 30 scientists and experts around the world addressed the most pressing topics that currently occupy the world’s headlines, especially those that indicate that the Coronavirus pandemic will be the cause of death of more than 7 million people around the world. Of which most of whom are smokers who depend on tobacco combustion products. Participants called for the development of a clear strategy that aims to reduce the harm from tobacco-combustion products and encourage less harmful alternatives.

The meeting also called for countries to adopt the necessary legal measures and frameworks that allow the regulation and circulation of heated tobacco products that which in turn, significantly reduce harm from tobacco, such as vapes (electronic cigarettes) and Swedish snacks and nicotine bags.

Several studies and researches submitted by experts in the forum confirmed that tobacco smoking is the most significant cause of non-communicable diseases and that it leads to the death of half of the smokers worldwide. The Global Pathological Burden Study estimates that smoking directly led to the death of 7.1 million people in 2017, along with 1.2 million additional deaths due to passive smoking.

To conclude, it is worth noting that GFN is usually funded from registration fees exclusively. This year, the forum was held free of charge with the organizers bearing the full cost.

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