Subscribe to our YouTube channel: 

In today's episode GFN Interviews host Brent Stafford swapped his usual interviewer's seat to join Joanna Junak to discuss all things #GFN24, the current global backlash to tobacco harm reduction from tobacco control proponents, and what he's learned since beginning to cover the world of tobacco harm reduction with Regulator Watch.


0:00 - Coming up on today's programme
0:57 - Questioning the direction of tobacco harm reduction
3:10 - Brent's insights on FDA's approach to tobacco harm reduction
4:30 - Why is the argument of protectiong children central in the fight against nicotine?
6:38 - Registration for #GFN24 is open!
7:49 - Closing remarks


00:00:05 --> 00:01:16

Joanna Junak: Hello and welcome! I'm Joanna Junak and this is GFN News on GFN.TV. Tobacco harm reduction and tobacco control are two distinct approaches aimed at addressing public health concerns associated with tobacco use. For many years Brent Stafford of RegWatch has been asking his guests about their thoughts and impressions on the central issues in public health. In today's program, we reverse roles and ask Brent about the interesting insights he may have gained from all these interviews. Let's talk about topics related to tobacco control and harm reduction, which you often discuss with your guests. So is the world moving to the right directions in terms of tobacco harm reduction and tobacco control? And do people understand the concept of tobacco harm reduction?

00:01:16 --> 00:04:28

Brent Stafford: Oh, that's a tough question. I mean, first, let me say like about the actual event each June is that I don't get an opportunity to sit down face to face with people on a regular basis during the year. So that's invaluable to be able to come in, set up the camera, you know, the studio setup that we have in the media center, and then to spend time three, four days straight interviewing people, it's fantastic. So, I mean, from that point of view, GFN means a lot. From our ability to be able to gauge the differing perspectives on THR within the window that I was speaking of, that, I mean, it is, you know, a pro-THR kind of an event. So, of course, it's going to be the Overton window is going to be certainly within that. Outside of the Global Forum on Nicotine, I think THR is getting beat up, like pretty bad. When we first started covering this issue in 2016, one of the first ideas we went along with was tobacco harm reduction. There was a hypocrisy around it, not from the advocacy side, but from public health side, because public health should have been embracing tobacco harm reduction, and yet they weren't. For many years after that, we were really chasing down the why, and the question was whether or not public health professionals, they didn't... Public health professionals did not accept that tobacco harm reduction was a valid application of the harm reduction theory or practice. And I still believe that to be the case, but that's obviously a big challenge. Now we're in a position where public health is denigrating tobacco harm reduction. And so you have like FDA commissioner Robert Califf just earlier in April, outright at a major hearing, a congressional hearing saying several times that tobacco harm reduction is an industry term. Or that it's a term supported by a multi-million dollar campaign by the industry. And then we're seeing it elsewhere through WHO and through researchers and stuff really attacking tobacco harm reduction as basically an industry plot. Now I don't know how to get around that, but that is recent, really, in the last 12 months. And then I think the other hurdle, certainly in North America, is that for regular folks, when they hear harm reduction, all they do is hear drugs harm reduction. And we've got our position on that. And there is the position that public health in US and Canada are deploying against that. But then there's what the public sees. And what the public sees is drugs harm reduction is problematic and it's got a negative connotation to it. So when you hear tobacco harm reduction, all they hear in their brain is drugs. So I think that that's something that should be talked about because it's a reality on the ground.

00:04:30 --> 00:04:41

Joanna Junak: Recently, a major issue revolves around banning products in order to protect children. Why is this argument consistently central in the fight against nicotine?

00:04:43 --> 00:06:37

Brent Stafford: There's there's a religious aspect to it, there is a puritanical aspect which is definitely religious. There's also I think a power issue around it because the one thing that particular people that have a certain political bent know is that they can use save the kids as a blunt instrument for power and so, and I think that actually probably can go on both sides of the political line over the years. However, we see it much more right now on the progressive side. But yeah, save the children. I mean, it's impossible to get around that without, I think, kind of figuring out a way to throw it back in their face. I mean, who doesn't want to save the children? The point is, is that every adult was once a child. Anybody who's a child now in 15, 20 years will be an adult. So, I mean, where's the line? It's such a narrow vision on creating children. I guess this is it, progressives and those on the right, they look to create the good life. So you have a concept of what is the good life. And there's a conflict of visions around that. And so for those of us on the pro-THR side, we've got a concept of the good life, which includes access to safer nicotine products. However, on the other side, there's a concept of the good life that thinks that that is anathema to a good life. And so how do we try to bridge that gap? And so I think that's one of the interesting things I think that should be considered to be talking about at GFN is around some of these thorny and hard to fix issues.

00:06:39 --> 00:06:52

Joanna Junak: You mentioned the Global Forum on Nicotine Conference, so let me ask you about this upcoming event. You have participated in it for many years, so why do you think it's worth attending?

00:06:53 --> 00:07:18

Brent Stafford: For the GFN conference, well, I mean, I think that you're not going to be able to find as many people that are all together in one place that are all like-minded thinking in terms of basically for tobacco harm reduction. I know that there are some that show up that believe that they might not be totally sold yet, but I think if you go, you come back sold.

00:07:20 --> 00:07:27

Joanna Junak: And as these conferences have been running in Warsaw for many years, has Warsaw ever become boring for you?

00:07:28 --> 00:07:47

Brent Stafford: Well, I mean, Warsaw is amazing. You know, so much history, but not speaking the language, you know, I only just scratched the surface of it. So it's yet to be boring, though it's a bit mystifying still, but I hope with each, you know, visit, I get to see more for sure.

00:07:49 --> 00:08:07

Joanna Junak: Thank you, Brent. We are looking forward to seeing you soon in Warsaw. That's all for today. Tune in next time here on GFN.TV or on our podcast. You can also find transcriptions of each episode on the GFN.TV website. Thanks for watching or listening. See you next time.