“Nicotine is not the problem. It is a very big part of the solution,” said Andy Morrison, a former smoker, vaping advocate and trustee for the New Nicotine Alliance, a UK-based non-profit organization that promotes understanding of the potential of safer nicotine products for reducing cigarette smoking.
It is the tar and poisonous gases in cigarette smoke that are harmful to health, not nicotine, he said. However, many people find it hard to stop smoking because it is very difficult for them go without nicotine. The good news is that safer nicotine products such as e-cigarettes can help people switch from smoking and thus avoid its many health risks.
These were the key messages of the world’s leading consumer advocates, policy analysts, and public health experts on tobacco harm reduction during the closing session of the fifth Global Forum on Nicotine held in Warsaw, Poland on June 14 to 16, 2018. This year’s theme is “Rethinking Nicotine”, which reflects the growing interest to examine the changing patterns of nicotine use and the emerging science relating to nicotine.
“Tobacco kills two-thirds of smokers, we know that with a high degree of certainty. Current evidence shows that e-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful than conventional cigarettes, but it would take at least 20 more years of epidemiological studies to confirm this. The obvious choice is to give smokers the opportunity to switch to a less harmful alternative now,” said Dr. Alex Wodak, president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation and president of the International Harm Reduction Association from 1996 to 2004.
“We have made tremendous progress in breaking down regulatory barriers and achieving breakthroughs in developing safer nicotine products. More and more people from different backgrounds are participating in the GFN. We need to build on our successes and accelerate our actions,” said David Sweanor, chair of the advisory board of the Centre for Health Law, Policy & Ethics, and an adjunct professor of the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa.
He has been actively involved in tobacco and health policy issues for over 30 years and played a leading role in setting many global precedents.
“We need to keep our messages on tobacco harm reduction and e-cigarettes simple, so that these are easily understood by media and the general public. It’s time for tobacco harm reduction advocates to break out of our bubbles and speak to a wider audience,” said Harry Shapiro, director of DrugWise, an online drug information service, and lead author and editor of the first Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction report due to be published in October 2018.
“We still have a lot of work to do. There is so much confusion among consumers and within the industry. We need context by putting things in their proper perspective. We need to hold people accountable. We need consensus, so let’s focus on similarities rather than differences, said Cynthia Cabrera, founder and president of The Cating Group, a vaping business consultancy firm.