0:00 - Intro
0:58 - How do e-cigarettes compare to nicotine patches in helping pregnant women quit smoking?
7:12 - Will Godfrey tells us about new vape ban on the horizon
10:25 - Is Thailand becoming the next southeast asian country to welcome THR?
15:36 - Albert Chan tells us about the current situation in Hong Kong
22:17 - Brent Stafford of RegWatch interviews Fiona Patten
44:07 - Closing remarks
Hello and welcome, I’m Joanna Junak and this is GFN News on GFN.TV.
In today’s news:
How do e-cigarettes compare to nicotine patches in helping pregnant women quit smoking? Professor Peter Hajek from Queen Mary University of London will comment on a new study he has been involved with.
Will Godfrey of Filter magazine will tell us about new vape bans on the horizon in Mexico and Los Angeles
Is Thailand becoming the next Southeast Asian country to welcome tobacco harm reduction? Clarisse Virgino, a vaper and consumer advocate from the Philippines shares her thoughts.
Albert Chan will tell us about the situation in Hong Kong now that the ban on the sale and manufacture of vaping products has come into force.
And after the news, Brent Stafford of RegWatch interviews Fiona Patten, Member for the Northern Metropolitan Region in the Victorian Parliament’s Legislative Council
A recent study from Queen Mary University of London found that pregnant smokers were more likely to quit smoking using e-cigarettes instead of nicotine patches. Peter Hajek, Professor of Clinical Psychology and Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary University of London kindly agreed to comment on these findings.
Peter: So we've recently published a large trial comparing e-cigarettes and nicotine patches in their efficacy and safety for use with pregnant smokers who are trying to quit. The major health risks of smoking are related to combustion chemicals rather than to nicotine, but there is some concern that nicotine may have some adverse effects in pregnancy. Of course, nicotine patches and nicotine replacement treatments are generally recommended in pregnancy because if they help smokers quit, any residual risks of nicotine, if there are any, would be justified by people stopping smoking. But the e-cigarette recommending those two pregnant smokers has been a bit controversial. Not so much in the UK, where actually it is recommended that if it helps pregnant smokers quit, that's fine to use them. But in the United States there was a famous not to use e-cigarettes in pregnant smokers. So in this trial we were comparing e-cigarettes and patches and it was done on sort of remote control. Across the UK, over 1100 pregnant smokers were either posted patches or refillable simple e-cigarettes, some refills. After that the people were encouraged to buy their own e-liquids of the flavours and strengths they like with liquor replacement that's given free to pregnant women in the United Kingdom. So they need to go to the pharmacy and get recommended combination treatments, patches plus many other replacement products and they were followed up at the end of pregnancy. Now, one problem with this study was that we want you to have a validated outcomes and because this was done across the country, people couldn't come to our lab for carbon monoxide validation. So we were posting them as saliva kits, so they would put saliva into there and post it back to us. But of course there was a problem that these women just gave birth or were in very late stages of pregnancy and it's situation you get something through the post where you have to read instructions provide saliva sample package up, take it to the post office and the returns are very low. So in terms of validated quit rates, which was the primary outcome, it was like 6% and 4% quick rates, which looks miserable. The other problem was that some people in the patch arm quit smoking using e-cigarettes. They tried patches, it didn't help them, they knew that the other arm of the studies using e-cigarettes and so they moved on and quit with e-cigarettes. And when you control for the difference between the two study and become much larger. Probably given the problem with the validation. A useful metric is to look at self-reported abstinence at the end of pregnancy and that was about 20% versus 10%. Which is roughly what you would expect and sort of confirming the other trials of e-cigarettes versus an article showing that e cigarettes are more effective. The other part of this probably as important or more important is the safety. And so we compared carefully the two study arms in adverse pregnancy outcomes and lots of various ways of looking at this and there were no differences, it was very similar. The one significant difference was the number of babies born with low birth weight, which is defined as babies which weigh less than two and a half kilos. And there were more of these in the patch arm than the e-cigarette arm, despite the fact that many more people use e-cigarettes through pregnancy. So they’re taking nicotine from there and people in the e-cigarettes. Now, it doesn't mean that taking nicotine during pregnancy protects you from having a low birth rate baby. It's most likely because people only cigarette smoke less, so you remove the real reason for low base rate and restricted growth. But it also suggests that use of nicotine in late pregnancy doesn't have any adverse effects or not much. We can't really talk about early pregnancy because all these women were smoking during early pregnancy. They then switched to one or the other, carried on smoking later on. But I think the results generally are reassuring. Nicotine late pregnancy probably does not contribute any harmful effects to pregnancy outcomes and e-cigarettes are as safe or probably have better outcomes than nicotine patches. And so I would now say that pregnant smokers, the way they are told, use nicotine replacement treatment. If you can't quit unaided I would add to it you cigarettes would be an equally good option, giving them a better chance of successful quitting.
Joanna: Now let’s turn to Will Godfrey to hear about two more major vape bans. Will, first of all, what’s been happening in Mexico?
Will: On the 31 May, Mexico's president signed a decree banning the sale of all e-cigarettes. The country's assistant health secretary chimed in by describing the idea that vapes are safer than cigarettes as a big lie. This is part of a long campaign against tobacco harm reduction products by the Mexican government, influenced by organizations like the Bloomberg funded to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. A back and forth history has included a 2020 executive order banning the import of THR products and a Supreme Court ruling last November that declared that outright prohibition of vaping and heat-not-burn products was unconstitutional. The new decree cites the Bloomberg funded World Health Organization's words that vapes contain nicotine and other toxic substances that are harmful to both users and non-users who are exposed to the aerosols second hand.
Joanna: Can you tell us any more about the implications?
Will: It's obviously a huge setback for THR in Mexico, where almost 13 million people smoke according to the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction, and almost 500 people die of smoking related causes each year. According to government figures. 5 million Mexicans have at least tried vaping. And they're not all going to stop. Many have already been buying illegally imported or under the counter vapes. And that promises of booming illicit market with attendant risks of criminalization and reduced consumer protections.
Joanna: Moving on to Los Angeles, what’s happened there?
Will: There more bad news, I'm afraid. On the 1 June, Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to ban sales of flavoured vaping products, together with flavoured cigars and mental cigarettes. Expected to be signed by the Mayor. The law will take effect at the beginning of 2023. It's a victory for the likes of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids once again, which has been pushing for it during a tortuous process lasting years. La will become the largest US. City to enact such a ban. The council member who introduced it declared we just took a huge step forward against Big Tobacco's deadly agenda in Los Angeles. Yet vape bans in other US. Jurisdictions have been shown to boost cigarette sales. THR advocates, of course, opposed banning harm reduction products, but also the mental cigarette ban, which is feared will increase criminalization in the black communities, which disproportionately smoke menthols.
Joanna: What’s the wider context in California?
Will: A similar ban could be enacted state-wide in November. Californians will vote in a referendum on that. A law banning flavours was actually signed by the Governor last year, but it was halted by a petition with more than 6000 validated signatures, which led to the referendum. Banned supporters will no doubt be emboldened by their win in California's biggest city.
Joanna: Thank you, Will. The Philippines are still waiting for the President's signature on the Vaporized Nicotine Product Bill which regulates the manufacture, sale and use of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.
Meanwhile, Thailand looks set to be the second Southeast Asia country to provide consumers with safer alternatives to combustible cigarettes. Draft legislation to legalize e-cigarettes has reached a sub-committee of Thailand’s Parliament and several top government officials.
Joining us today is Clarisse Virgino, a vaper and consumer advocate from the Philippines. Clarisse will tell us more about the situation both in the Philippines and Thailand.
Joanna: Thank you, Clarisse for joining us. Can you tell us what happens now in the Philippines regarding the Vape Bill?
Clarisse: At the moment, we are still waiting for the signature of the President. So everyone is under those. But as of now, since it's not yet signed, the current rules still apply to us. As of the moment, actually, there is a flavour ban. So this flavour ban, it states that fruit and candy flavours are no longer allowed to be sold to consumers, although this one is also part of the Vape bill. So we are hopeful that in the very near future, the President will sign the Vape bill.
Joanna: And in Thailand?
Clarisse: I have read and heard from my side colleagues that the site government at the moment is looking into legalization of selling of e-cigarettes and the THR products, heat, not burn products. And this is a good development, especially in the Asia area, because a lot of Asian countries are a little hesitant to recognize tobacco reduction. And we have consumers and experts have already shown a lot of data. We have the science to back it up. So the Thai government is looking into regulating, properly regulating these products, because they are also afraid that if these products will remain unregulated, it will create a much bigger black market. And in that situation, the government will have no control over any selling or importations or exportations. So I think it's a good development that Thailand is currently looking into legalizing the selling of the THR products or e-cigarettes.
Joanna: Who supports the legalization of e-cigarettes in Thailand?
Clarisse: Yeah, same thoughts. Actually, at first when I heard about it, I was surprised that they finally changed their mind. But I think it also has to do with the fact that the Philippines is currently awaiting for the signature of the Vape bill. So I think it has an influence because we are neighbouring countries, after all, and we belong to the same area. So I hope that the Thai government will also push for the legalization of these cars.
Joanna: The Thai Parliament wants to review the vaping ban. Why now?
Clarisse: I can't remember or pronounce the name properly, but these are government officials, and I think, if I remember correctly, they are also looking into the taxes that might be and will be generated from the legalization of these products, especially now that we are still in a pandemic. And for the past two years, almost all of the countries suffered economically. So taxes to be generated in these in selling e-cigarettes and legalizing e-cigarettes will greatly help a nation, not just Thailand, but also the Philippines and probably other countries too.
Joanna: How do Filipino and Thai vapers feel about it? Are they looking forward to the legalisation of vaping products?
Clarisse: I can't speak for my colleagues because I haven't been to Thailand for a couple of years now, but I hope that they are happy because they used to have really strict rules, right? With regard e-cigarettes. So I think if proper regulation and not an outright bank will be put in place, I think vapers would be happy about it.
Joanna: Thank you, Clarisse. On April 30 Hong Kong banned the importation and sale of alternative smoking products, including vaping and heat-not-burn products. Let’s find out what changed in Hong Kong and in China after the new law came into effect. We asked Albert Chan, a consultant to FactAsia, for an update.
Albert: So after the law came into effect in April, technically everything will not be allowed to be sold. And so, a few weeks before the ban, we have seen people in Hong Kong stocking up e-products, especially the cigarettes sticks of the heat-not-burn format. And shops were reporting sales of up to three times, four times as many as usual. And there were also signs of people going under the table selling these products. One interesting way to do it was to distribute leaflets into mailboxes of major housing assets, leaving phone numbers for people to place phone orders. So with perhaps 5% to 10% of current smokers already using the product, I am quite certain buying and selling would continue despite the law change. And just before the law took effect, end of April, shop owners have to discount their products, sometimes 20%-30% discount, because they have to get rid of all these products before they became illegal and the reason why people were buying a lot more than before. So that's the situation in Hong Kong. Now, there are three major jurisdictions in the world which are primarily Chinese, of course, China, mainland China, and then Hong Kong, which has a totally different legal system, as you know. And certainly Taiwan, which again is totally different from China and different from Hong Kong. But the reason I'm making this point is because, interestingly, China has already made it official that they will regulate rather than ban these products. And in Taiwan, the health authorities have also proposed to regulate heat-not-burn, but ban all the other types of alternative products, like vaping, e-liquid and so on. The justification of the Taiwan authorities is that they think the heat-not-burn cigarettes basically are similar to conventional cigarettes. Both were made with tobacco leaves, tobacco paper with filter and so on, so on. Whereas the other types, like vaping, like e-liquid, they were not like tobacco products. So they decided to ban it, but allow a heat-not-burn to be sold in Taiwan. That is still a proposal from the government, and it's still subject to approval and passing by the legislators lawmakers. I think it probably will be passed within this year.
Joanna: Albert also mentioned Hong Kong as the country with one of the lowest smoking rates.
Albert: So very interestingly, Hong Kong primary Chinese dominated jurisdiction to ban everything. And it is totally unreasonable and justifiable because if you look at the smoking rate, Hong Kong has probably one of the world's lowest smoking instance. I've just looked at World Bank data. Global smoking rates globally average about 23%, and Europe is about 26%, North America is about 20 plus percent in most countries. Some, of course, have lowers, like Singapore. As we all understand, Singapore's smoking rate is 16%. Hong Kong is 10%. Very low. Some people, some experts believe there is a certain level, certain percentage of people who will smoke regardless. It's a lot easier to get down from 30 to 20 and perhaps a bit difficult from 20 to 10. But if you want to get from 10% to 5% or 0%, it's almost impossible because they are bound to be people who just can't give up smoking. So we believe as a consumer rights concern, but we believe 10% smoking rate just doesn't justify such a draconian law banning everything, every type of alternative tobacco products.
Joanna: However, this year, Hong Kong is waiting for another revolution.
Albert: Another development in Hong Kong is that there will be a change in government in July this year. There will be a new chief executive. In the past in Colombia, we call him the Governor. So there will be an entirely new administration ruling Hong Kong starting July 1. It is not clear whether the new administration would be as draconian as the current government with regard to smoking health, but I'm not too hopeful that the law, which only came into effect two months ago, will be changed again soon. But at least we could start doing some fresh lobbying with the new government to see how things go. But I'm not too optimistic on this.
Joanna: What will be the consequences of this change? GFN News will keep you updated. And now, we go over to Brent Stafford and his guest, Fiona Patten, Member for the Northern Metropolitan Region in the Victorian Parliament’s Legislative Council. Next week, Fiona will be joining us at GFN22 on a panel discussing human rights and legal challenges in the world of safer nicotine. In today’s interview, however, Fiona will share her thoughts on the availability of nicotine products after new laws came into force in Australia. Over to you, Brent.
BRENT: Hello Joanna, thanks for that. And hi everybody, I’m Brent Stafford and welcome to another segment of RegWatch on GFN.tv. Around the world, advocates for safer nicotine products make a simple request of policymakers: apply reason and common sense to decisions impacting access and choice to these potentially lifesaving products. But in a growing number of jurisdictions, these principles of sound decision-making are treated with contempt and scorn. Joining us today is someone who knows a great deal about promoting reason and common-sense, Australian politician Fiona Patten, leader of The Reason Party and M.P. for the Northern Metropolitan Region in the Victorian Legislative Council. Fiona thanks for coming on the show.
FIONA: Thanks for having me
BRENT: Your path to parliament is not a typical one. Tell us, how did you get your start in politics and why?
FIONA: I first got involved in politics in a very peripheral way through during the HIV and AIDS epidemic. So I was volunteering on a needle exchange and needle exchange program. It was a mobile bus. And I was also very involved with the AIDS Council in my in my city. And I saw the discrimination. I saw the impact and effects of prohibitive laws or discriminatory laws, and I saw the stigma involved in that. I then worked as a sex worker. I ran an industry association that represented the adult industry in Australia as well as a lot of the sex education programs and condom manufacturers, etc.. And I kept seeing that the, the community attitudes were going in one direction, but politicians, politicians work was going in the other direction. So we were seeing a fundamental split. And whether that was around end of life choices around drug law reform, around marriage equality, there was a whole range of areas with it that the government was completely out of step with the community. And I worked from the outside, you know, walking the corridors of the various state and federal parliaments around Australia, trying to trying to change this. And in the end we thought not so much. If you can't beat them, join them, but let's take these issues to the ballot box. And so, yes, so the sex party was born at that stage, Brent.
BRENT: And you actually got elected under that party.
FIONA: That's right. Much to everyone's surprise. So this gave me the opportunity to talk about the issues that I thought were important. So I got assisted dying on an inquiry into assisted dying that eventually led to legislation. I introduced legislation to provide safe access zones around abortion clinics. So people started to sort of, I guess, take notice of the sex party and were somewhat surprised at the level of activity and success we were having. So at a polling booth for a federal election, I just every second person would go, love what you do, change your name, love what you do, change your name. It takes a certain person to wear a bright yellow T-shirt with sex emblazoned on the front. So, yeah, we went back to the drawing board and thought about who we were and who we wanted to be and who we wanted to talk to in our community. And yeah, we changed our name to reason. And as we like to say, we've become a voice of reason.
BRENT: Fiona, when you first got started, and I'm sure you're still fighting on many of these issues now, did you understand even then, back then, that it was harm reduction that you were fighting for?
FIONA: Back in the 1980s when I first kind of got involved in this area, I don't think we had fully articulated the theory of harm reduction. I didn't know that's what it was. But certainly as I started to get involved in the sex
worker community, we started to use that terminology. And I now I now realize that, yes, it was it was always about harm reduction. And I think It might be safe injecting safe injecting rooms. It might be, as I said, clean
needles. It might be drug education, but it also might be things like, you know, drink driving or blood alcohol testing on roadsides. You know, we don't we're not going to stop people from drinking, but what we want them to do is not harm anyone as a result to that. So harm reduction goes, it goes permeates throughout our lives. Yet you and I might have a strong understanding about it. We might talk about it all the time. I still think that the general population is not all that familiar with that term, and that might be something that we need we need to continue to work on.
BRENT: So you're certainly fighting the big fights against some of the big issues. So let's turn to tobacco harm reduction now. In your mind, is THR a valid application of the harm reduction philosophy as you would find it with, say, hard drugs?
FIONA: Of course, it's completely natural and it's a completely natural progression. It's a completely natural response to tobacco You know, I look at the people who are rallying against tobacco harm reduction, and they were some of the pioneers of harm reduction in this country. They were also some of the people who rallied against tobacco, who tried to reduce tobacco use in this country and in your country as well. And yet they're now sitting on the other side of the fence saying, you know, abstinence is the only answer or, you know, go to big pharma and take on board a, you know, some sort of Johnson and Johnson nicotine replacement
treatment. So there's you know, it really is quite perplexing. And then the outcome of that is that governments don't want to touch it because they're too scared of the Heart Foundation, the Cancer Council, or not providing any great rationale except for. Oh, we don't know how dangerous vaping might be. Well, what we do know is how dangerous smoking is. And what we do know, and none of them will disagree with this, is that vaping is not as dangerous as smoking. So this is fundamental harm reduction. And we've got these people who previously argued for harm reduction, previously fought for the needle for needle exchanges, previously fought for opioid replacement treatments, and yet they won't support this replacement treatment. And it's I don't understand it. And I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but sometimes you kind of think, you know, are they in the pocket of big tobacco? You know, they get great big donations from huge supermarkets, which are the biggest retailers of tobacco. So is that the rationale? Now, I don't I don't actually think it is, but it is strange. It is strange and it is perplexing.
BRENT: And that's where my question comes from, because there are so many people that, you know, were warriors for harm reduction when it comes to hard drugs and so forth. But yet they're the most challenged to accept it for tobacco. And so wondering whether or not if they just don't think that it's a valid application of the theory and I'm trying to be kind by coming up with that kind of analysis.
FIONA: I agree with you. I think there's I think there's also this growing stigma around smokers that somehow smokers should know better. But smokers are not born into this addiction through trauma or mental or mental health. Actually, they are. But that through trauma or this, there's not this very sad backstory that we might see in in in other areas where drugs are problematic in someone's life. So is it that. Or is it just that they have always run these quick campaigns, run these campaigns, and they don't want to let go of that and run these campaigns that nicotine is the problem, that nicotine is bad and that is know that's misinformation because. Well, you know, I'm sure putting any impure substance into your body is not is not ideal, but it's the we know it's the smoking. We know it's the tar that is that is actually killing people. So, you know, there's concern about young people. And I share that concern. But what we're doing now is actually putting young people at greater risk than if we were to take a different path of regulation.
BRENT: We're based in Canada and so we're both come from the Commonwealth countries and if anybody should have some common sense, it's us. We don't seem to, though, be listening to, you know, the motherland. You know, England's doing one thing. They seem to be the only bright light when it comes to this issue. What's going wrong with everybody else?
FIONA: I liken Canada to New Zealand. You know, Canada's just that bit better than their adjoining cousins. United States and. And New Zealand is just that bit better than they'd rather being Australia and you see what New Zealand has done and you see the success of what they've done and they will be smokefree you know probably before the end of this decade, which is quite extraordinary. Now Australia, we have been stubbornly sitting at the same level of smoking rates for close to a decade. And then if you look at our Indigenous communities, if you look at our Aboriginal brothers and sisters, their smoking rates are far higher and we are doing nothing about that. We are letting those people die. Why are we not providing these tools to our Aboriginal community? And in fact when I speak to Aboriginal organisations about this they say, Fiona, when we mention this at the table we get shot down and we know that our, our community members are wanting to use vaporizers and we want to be able to, to give them information about how to do it safely, about what's the best device for them and what should be their expectations. And they get shot down by Cancer Council, they get shot down by health departments. And, you know, again, if I was going to be a real conspiracy theorist, I think of all of the tobacco tax that we make from those really harden v ed smokers at the top, a few percentages of smoking rates. We make billions of dollars in Australia on our own tobacco tax. I think it's somewhere it's somewhere around three or $4 billion a year. You know, it funds a lot of hospitals. So is that also coming into play in in these policy decisions?
BRENT: Now Australia. Just recently, I guess within the last two years, you know, started moving towards a much more stringent access to nicotine vapes and it being now you have to actually get a doctor's prescription. How is that going?
FIONA: It's going terribly Brent, although it is going terribly. But there also is probably it has created some greater understanding about harm reduction and alternative and nicotine replacement therapies amongst some of the medical profession. However, it's nowhere. And what it's what you know, unsurprisingly, we all knew this was going to happen. It's creating a giant black market in the product, a completely unregulated market. And it's causing far more harm. It's probably preventing people from accessing this replacement therapy. So for many people they've it's become just too hard. Their GP's not interested in prescribing a nicotine product for them or via vape, so they're going back to smoking and you know, we've seen there's always these kind of sweet spots in, in harm reduction and we see it in tobacco. You keep up putting the price up, putting the price up, putting the price up and people stop. Let's go. Right, that's it. I'm quitting. But then it gets to a point where there's a certain percentage who can't quit, and that's where organised crime and criminal organisations get involved because then they see that market and we're, we've seen that in tobacco and sadly we are starting to see this in vaping even though and despite all of this and I think this is really of this makes this point vaping numbers in Australia are continuing to rise. This they're still fairly small but they're continuing to rise despite all attempts to stop people from accessing nicotine replacement vaping.
BRENT: Are you worried that enforcement will lead to actual incarceration at some point?
FIONA: Oh, it definitely will. It definitely will. Although, you know, I've got to say that we know we have a huge illicit tobacco market in Australia. Absolutely massive. And very little is done about it. Very little is done about it. There's occasional big busts. And, you know, the TV cameras come and the police show the big bundles of tobacco or, you know, illicit cigarette packets and things like that. But it doesn't even touch the tip of that iceberg. So I suspect that, yes, we could see people be incarcerated. Right now, it's actually illegal to
possess tobacco, to possess nicotine without a prescription. So it's actually a criminal offence now for someone now, I'm not aware of anyone who's been charged for that. And I'd challenge the police to figure out whether that person vaping in the street is vaping a nicotine product or a non nicotine product. And I think the police quite rightly felt that they've got better things to do. But you know, right now using nicotine without a prescription could put you in jail, which even as I say that, I can't believe those words are coming out of my mouth.
BRENT: So this truly is a new war on nicotine replacing? Well, I guess the drug war is still ongoing in Australia, but you know, it's now a new war.
FIONA: Okay. I think we probably we are much happier providing Suboxone or methadone or any form of opioid replacement therapy. The community is even more relaxed about that than they are around providing a replacement therapy for smokers. There's an this goes I think this goes to this stigma and this goes to this kind of notion that you should be able to just give up and look for most lovely middle class people who've gone to good schools and all of that, they have very low smoking rates in those in those cohorts. The smoking rates are much higher in our communities of disadvantage. And the cost is so high, we're seeing, you know, in some places, people having to forgo, you know, buying good, good, healthy groceries to support their nicotine habit because the only way they can access it is through very, very expensive tobacco.
BRENT: Yeah. When you keep piling on the nicotine tax, the tobacco tax on the cigarettes. And it does hit that point in Canada at one point right before I quit smoking several years ago because I was a two pack a day smoker. It was $32 a day. I mean, that's a serious habit. That's a drug habit. And to at what point does that become really being taken advantage of?
FIONA: Exactly. And, you know, my I was in a two pack a day smoker, but, you know, I really struggled to give up and Vaping provided that solution for me as well. So, you know, I, I have I can advocate from that personal story and understanding how much better I feel. Not smoking. But, you know, even from a government perspective, smoking, while we make a lot of money from the tax. Smoking is really expensive. It is expensive to our health system. The cost to our health, the cost to early death, the cost to emphysema and other forms of lung damage, the cost of heart disease, all of those things should make us make every fiscal conservative politician race to the to the statute book to change that law and to make it easy for people to be able to vape. And I and sadly, we're not getting that, you know, I, I haven't given up because what I'm seeing is people are doing it anyway. You know, Australians and people around the world are understanding that this is a healthier option for them, that this is a reduces the harm of tobacco and this helps them give up and it helps them become smoke free. So I, I remain optimistic that as our numbers of vapers continue to grow, that politicians will actually start seeing it as an electoral matter and that they will see that that, you know, voting against a large cohort of their electorate actually could be electoral suicide for them.
BRENT: Yeah. And just last question then for you, Fiona. What is the argument then that access to safer nicotine products is a human right?
FIONA: should have that autonomy of our own bodies. So if something is available that reduces our reduces harm that that enables us to live a healthier life, then that is a human right.
BRENT: Fiona. The Global Forum on Nicotine Conference in Warsaw, Poland, is coming up this June 16 to 18. You're attending again this year, participating on several panels and speaking on human rights. One of those panels is safer nicotine, human rights and legal challenges. Fiona, why is a conference like GFN 22 important to tobacco harm reduction?
FIONA: It is it is absolutely crucial that we try we keep the common sense, we keep the evidence in the public eye. And that's what conferences like this do. They provide us with platforms to talk about the actual evidence around tobacco harm reduction and around nicotine replacement therapies. I think also it's about people who vape themselves, you know, being able to see that they're not alone and that there is a community out there and that what they're doing is not unscrupulous is that it actually is about their own health and it reaffirms the decisions that they made to give up smoking and use the tool of vaping or any nicotine, any other nicotine replacement therapies. And that that was the right that was that was a decision that that many other people have made.
Joanna: Thank you Brent and Fiona – we look forward to seeing you both next week in Warsaw.
That’s all for today. Thanks for watching and see you next time, for more tobacco harm reduction updates and Brent’s forthcoming interview with GFN22 panellists.
Thank you and goodbye