WARSAW, Poland, June 19, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — International public health specialists, scientists, doctors, regulators, consumers and manufacturers are convening this week in the Polish capital to discuss new ways of tackling global smoking–related death and disease. Over four days, 70 speakers and hundreds of delegates at the tenth annual Global Forum on Nicotine (21 – 24 June) will focus on tobacco harm reduction, which encourages adults who cannot quit smoking to switch to safer nicotine products.
Despite decades of tobacco control efforts, a billion people still smoke worldwide, with eight million smoking–related deaths each year. Four in five smokers live in low– and middle–income countries, least able to cope with the resulting burden of disease, and smoking is a major cause of health inequalities in higher income countries. The thousands of toxins released when tobacco burns cause smoking–related diseases, not nicotine, which is a comparatively low–risk substance.
Vapes (e–cigarettes), pasteurised snus, nicotine pouches and heated tobacco products enable people to use nicotine without burning tobacco, significantly reducing health risks compared to continued smoking. Global estimates suggest 112 million people use these products, despite inconsistent regulation and outright prohibition in some countries. Smoking prevalence is falling faster where these products are available and appropriately regulated, such as in the UK, Sweden, Japan and New Zealand.
GFN23 will tackle the opportunities and challenges of tobacco harm reduction, including the development of regulatory systems that enable adult smokers to access safer products, while reducing youth uptake. Open to all, free live–streamed sessions from the event, translated from English to Spanish and Russian, will cover the last decade of science around safer nicotine products and their efficacy in smoking cessation, the environmental impact of safer products in comparison to combustible cigarettes and the detrimental impact of moral stances and ideology on science and regulation.
While it supports harm reduction for HIV/AIDS prevention and substance use, the World Health Organization opposes harm reduction for tobacco. Ibero–American experts at GFN23 will discuss the upcoming WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control COP10 in Panama this November, where decisions on the future of safer nicotine products may have grave implications for global public health.
Ahead of GFN23, Gerry Stimson, Emeritus Professor at Imperial College London and the event's co–founder, called for international tobacco control leaders to adopt rational and pragmatic approaches that prioritise saving lives: "Ideology must be set aside and people must be supported to quit by all available means."
The Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) is the only international conference to focus on the role of safer nicotine products that help people switch from smoking, in an approach called tobacco harm reduction. Find out more and register to watch online sessions free at https://gfn.events/
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