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Today in #GFNVoices we speak to Tomás O'Gorman about the importance of the consumer voice to tobacco harm reduction. We also catch up with Norbert 'Zillatron' Schmidt, who talks about current perceptions around nicotine.


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Joanna Junak: Hi Tomas, it's good to see you in Warsaw. What do you think about this year's GFN conference?

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Tomas O'Gorman: Well, besides it's the 10th anniversary of the conference, I think it showed a slight change. I mean, it's amazing that every year we talk about almost the same topics, but at the same time, they change a little bit. And focusing this year on the next decade, and giving consumers the role that consumers play in tobacco harm reduction some kind of more importance. I believe it's very important because in the fight for THR, all the stakeholders have to be taken into account. And I think that people should notice that the role that consumers play in this fight is quite important. So, I was very pleased to see the program this year and I'm very pleased to see that they are starting to talk about the next decade and giving consumers an important role in it.

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Joanna Junak: Speaking of next decade, what do you think needs to change within the next 10 years?

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Tomas O'Gorman: What do I think has to be changed... I mean, the authorities, regulators and NGOs that have been fighting tobacco do really need to open to the fact that safer nicotine products can do the trick. Asking for that, I understand it's asking for a radical change. But if it's compassion what drives the fight against tobacco, then it's compassion the same thing that must be applied in this case. Because people who smoke are really endangering their lives and just giving them the chance to access safer nicotine products, it's a compassion attack. So I believe that Maybe, maybe in the next years, tobacco control will open the heart a little bit more and see that the tobacco harm reduction focus is not a danger, it's an opportunity and I hope they size it.

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Joanna Junak: Which topic on the conference seems to be most interesting for you?

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Tomas O'Gorman: Well, the first day there was a lot of talk about regulation and that's something I have a key interest because I'm a lawyer and maybe it's easy for me to talk about regulation aspects. But it was interesting particularly to see the phenomenon that happened in Philippines and the very good regulation they got over there is a good start point. To counter that with the Australian problems regarding this medicalized regulation. Then the open talk about regulation in general. So yes, maybe the topic I liked more was actually regulation aspects.

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Joanna Junak: Great. Thank you so much.

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Tomas O'Gorman: Thank you.

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Joanna Junak: Hello, nice to see you again in Warsaw at the GFN conference. What do you think about this year's GFN conference?

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Norbert Schmidt: It was really great and meeting all these people and listening to all the inspiring lectures and discussions was invigorating every year.

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Joanna Junak: And which topic on the conference seems to be the most interesting for you?

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Norbert Schmidt: Well, I'm a bit of a nerd, so it was Paul Newhouse's description of all the nicotinic receptors. But the other topics were interesting too, to learn about how the world is acting against or for vaping, and how the policies change. Hopefully getting some clue what we can do.

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Joanna Junak: This year's strap line is tobacco harm reduction the next decade. What do you think needs to change in 10 years?

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Norbert Schmidt: The first thing that needs to change is the perception of nicotine. Without perceiving nicotine as what it is, if people still conflate nicotine with smoking, there will be no progress. This is the first message that needs to be brought to the people that nicotine by itself is not the culprit for anything, not even addiction.

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Joanna Junak: Thank you so much.

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Norbert Schmidt: Thank you.

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Joanna Junak: Thank you.