Since the formation of the Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) in 2014, it has been a tradition for the annual conference to take place in Warsaw, Poland in the month of June. Due to COVID 19, the organisers of the conference decided to take the 7th GFN online and giving it a much wider audience.
The GFN is an international and diverse gathering of various stakeholders including; policy makers, scientists, nicotine consumers, advocates, government officials and academicians who discuss the role of harm reduction in reducing smoking rates and upholding public health. Unlike other summits that restrict participation and usually taking place behind closed doors, the GFN has always been open to everyone, calling on all responsible stakeholders to a round table and have a reasonable discussion.
The two-day summit had thirty experts speaking on various topics including the importance of observing ethics and professionalism when dealing with tobacco harm reduction issues plus responsible journalism in reporting news around nicotine and vaping, picking out the negative feedback loop and blowing issues out of proportion which leads to misinformation.
At the online conference, we also saw expert analysists discussing issues around COVID 19 and tobacco harm reduction. Other segments analysed issues on regulation and explored the challenges, costs and benefits of tobacco harm reduction.
The content of the summit was well summed up in the Michael Russel oration which was done by Louise Ross, a retired Smoking Cessation Manager in one of the public institutions in the United Kingdom. Louise admitted that at first, she was skeptical and had biased thoughts about vaping but her curiosity and openness to new information helped her realise that tobacco harm reduction is a life changing opportunity. In her words, the orator concluded that, “Less smoking is equal to more birthdays”.