Subscribe to our YouTube channel: 

Join us for the first episode of GFN Voices 2023!

#GFN23 brought together some of the best researchers, organisers and advocates in the tobacco harm reduction world, and over the next few weeks we will be sharing their insights about the last 10 years of GFN, and what they think next decade of THR may look like.

To start off, Alex Wodak gives us his thoughts and favourite highlights from the GFN23 conference in Warsaw, and how global outlooks on THR contrast with stark vaping restrictions in Australia.


Hello, Alex. Nice to see you again in Warsaw.

Thank you.

Can you tell me what do you think about this year's GFN conference?

Well, I think it's growing, it's vigorous, new people are coming and the movement is

getting stronger. And I think it's very clear to me that this movement will prevail, that

eventually we will have some reduced risk products in more and more countries as the

years go by. So I'm very pleased about that.

Which topic on the conference seems to be most interested for you?

I was very interested in Roberto Sussman's analysis of the quality of the methodology

of scientific research and his conclusion from his study of metals and organic chemicals

in exhaled aerosols from vaping equipment, which found that the worse the methodology

of the study, the more alarming the findings. And studies that had sound methodology found

little to worry about. They were very reassuring. And unfortunately, of course, that's on new

knowledge, but his analysis was very meticulous and he's a very experienced laboratory researcher

himself, so he knows what he's talking about. So it wasn't news for me, but it made a big impact.

I was also impressed by the session on the medical journal and the publishing industry,

because it was clear from that that we have so many obstacles. Of course, it's better

that we still have medical journals than no medical journals, but one of the problems

clearly is where professional societies own a journal and then they influence the editorial

decisions taken by their own journal. It's also, I have mixed feelings about the way

my country was presented again and again and again by people from Australia and also by

people from other countries. And Australia's record on tobacco harm reduction is appalling.

We've produced a huge black market. We have lots of young people have ready access to

terrible quality equipment. And most important of all, the smoking rate is flat. Countries

which have a more sensible approach to vaping, such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand,

the smoking rate is falling rapidly. So it's not pleasant to hear your country criticised,

but the criticisms are valid. And Australia is now performing a role of being the example

of the country that's making a mess of its policies. And people are learning from the

mistakes that Australia is making. Overall, my view is that when you have things that

can't go on forever, they don't go on forever. They stop. And so I think we will eventually

win this debate and win the policy debate, as we did over a long period of time with

drug harm reduction and drug law reform. But it's a slow business. It doesn't happen overnight.

We need more young people getting into it. One of the things I find really hard and I

really like about this conference is that everyone talks to consumers. They have a right

to be heard. I'm not a consumer of nicotine or tobacco, but people like me have to listen to

what they have to say. And at this conference, we do. The more stakeholders we listen to,

they're not 100% right about everything, but we have to listen to them. It's good that the

tobacco industry is at this conference. This is really a remarkable conference,

and I'm very pleased to attend it. Thank you and hope to see you next year.

Okay, thank you. Thank you.