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Diego Verrastro and Julio Ruades a.k.a El Mono Vapeador reflect on our first ever Spanish language sessions at #GFN23 and the key takeaways for LATAM THR activists.


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Joanna Junak: What’s your name and where are you from?

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Diego Verrastro: My name is Diego, I am a doctor and I’m from Argentina. I am the spokesperson for the Latin American Network for Harm Reduction from Smoking, a network that brings together several doctors and scientists who work to disseminate all these tools and the science of harm reduction in Latin America.

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Joanna Junak: And you? What’s your name and where are you from?

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Julio Ruades: My name is Julio Ruades and I am the representative of Anesvap in Spain, the association of personal vaporizer users.

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Joanna Junak: What do you think about this year’s GFN conference?

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Diego Verrastro: The truth is that we are very happy, very good level of conferences and especially because this year with the tenth anniversary we have had the historic opportunity to have discussion in Spanish, with simultaneous translation into English, and the truth is that it is a place that we hope the organization continues to maintain and that we, the doctors and scientists of Latin America, can live up to the talks and discussions that they occur in this forum, which is honestly impressive.

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Julio Ruades: Well, for my part, from the point of view of an activist, it is always the obligatory appointment year after year to continue learning, and this year has been no less. Furthermore, as Diego has said, having session in Spanish for the first time has been a luxury, and you learn a lot here and it is always a pleasure to return year after year.

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

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Diego Verrastro: Well, let's see, everything that is political management, not only of the activists, but also of the doctors who are fighting for the science of harm reduction, has been worked on very well here. There were some topics from a scientific point of view that were also very interesting. And well, I believe that we are at a stage within harm reduction where new science will continue to emerge. There is a lot, but from now on I believe that we have to start generating it. We already have a very strong and sustainable base of that science. Well, now we have to start, I believe, and it is my humble opinion, to polish it and to get politicians in all the countries that are not regulated, to begin to understand this science of harm reduction to generate public health policies that continue saving lives. Thank you.

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Julio Ruades: Well, for me, something perhaps different from other years has been the retrospective that has been done looking back 10 years, the 10 years of the GFN, everything that has been learned in this time, and we always tend to think about all the work that we still have to do, but it has been very good to see everything we have already done, everything that has been done, everything that has been learned, and, indeed, there is still a lot ahead, but what we have achieved in 10 years is incredible.

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Joanna Junak: Thank you.

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Diego Verrastro: You’re welcome.