Join us for another episode of GFN Voices 2023!
Today, we meet up with Bengt Wiberg and Judy Gibson, who share their thoughts on the event and how GFN influences the Tobacco Harm Reduction space.
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Joanna Junak: Hi, Bengt. It's good to see you again in Warsaw. Thank you, Joanna. What do you think about this year's GFN Conference?
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Bengt Wiberg: It's very exciting. No matter how much you already know, you always get more knowledge coming here. And meeting people in person, it beats video any time of the day.
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Joanna Junak: Which session have been the most interesting for you so far?
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Bengt Wiberg: I'm still looking for that. Coming this afternoon is unequalities between availability of various less harmful nicotine alternatives to smoking. But I've enjoyed every seminar. Sometimes there are two things happening at the same time, so you have to pick the best one.
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Joanna Junak: Do you think people are more aware of safer nicotine products now?
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Bengt Wiberg: Yes, since the start of GFN 10 years ago. I think now, for example, when people are talking about safer alternatives: snus, nicotine pouches, HEETS are also mentioned. The vaping movements were very early out in social media and media, but GFN brings the attention to the whole smorgasbord, which is a Swedish word that means a buffet. A buffet of safer alternatives.
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Joanna Junak: So why is there so much misinformation about vaping or safety of e-cigarettes and snus around the world?
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Bengt Wiberg: I think the anti-all the nicotine crusaders are basically fighting to keep their well-paid jobs and as the risk reduces via innovation. I'm an inventor and patent holder myself. They are continually looking for new arguments, but I mean the science will prevail. I'm sure of that. And people like this meeting in person, sharing information and getting the answer to the difficult questions.
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Joanna Junak: Great. Thank you so much. Thank you. Hello, Judy. It's nice to see you in Warsaw again.
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Judy Gibson: Thank you. Lovely to see you as well.
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Joanna Junak: Can you tell us what do you think about this year's GFN conference?
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Judy Gibson: After we had the COVID intervals and everything else and last year we came back, I'm always amazed. Actually, I'm always amazed about the organization. I mean, if you want to go and see how to run a conference, go to GFN, because you'll learn. But the range of people here, the amount of people from different countries, has increased enormously. And I've been coming since 2015, and I've come to every one since. It's so good because you get so many different views and you also really find out about the problems they have and as well the person who helped found INNCO, I'm very aware of obviously because we have Africa, we have different countries I'm aware but this time it's it's been wider and I think that's been particularly good. The one thing about this conference, I must say, there is something very, very special about it. That is that by the time we get to GFN, we are all exhausted. All this pushback from the anti-tobacco, the tobacco control, it's enervating. You just think, I just can't go on, really. Then you come here. And you listen to the passion and enthusiasm, you listen to the scientists, you listen to the public health people, you listen to all these people, and you go back with your shoulders back, you really do, you know, I'm not making this up, you can tell by my eyes, you go back, you're invigorated, you go back and say, let's kill it, and that is the bestest bit for me.
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Joanna Junak: Great. And which topic on the conference seems to be the most interesting for you?
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Judy Gibson: I think at the moment really trying to all understand how we frame and how we respond because one of the biggest problems now we have is disinformation and the amount of disinformation that used to be a little drip but in fact is now becoming a torrent. in media every day and how we approach that because really we already believe in tobacco harm reduction, you know, I have an e-cigarette, you know, of course I know. It's really how, because nobody knows, if I knew exactly how to do it, you know, somebody would pay me a million pounds and I'd take it. But there's no one answer so that's really important how you listen to people and how they manage to do this or the other or you'll get to the regulatory people or so on but that's an area that I find particularly interesting for me as a consumer advocate.