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.
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.