This week I attended a thing in Dublin. This thing to be exact. GFN Dialogues Hosted by the Irish Vape Vendors Association, this was an opportunity to hear the current arguments on nicotine from a few of the experts.
Now I’ve never been at something like this before and sort of expected dry presentations with pie charts, bar graphs, histograms and maybe even the lesser spotted stemplot. If graph porn is your thing, you would have been disappointed, Oh there were a few graphs and even some sets of stats but none of this was dry presentation. It turned out to be an entertaining set of presentations which ran for about 15 to 20 minutes each.
While that may seem a short time to cover the subject, once you see it set out in bullet points it makes perfect sense. It’s a simple argument.
- Harm reduction works
- If attractive to the consumer it works best
- Smokeless nicotine reduces harm
- Right now E-cigs are the most attractive reduced harm tobacco alternative.
- Advantaging e-cigs will deliver a public health benefit.
David Sweanor covered the history of harm reduction using the example of how refrigeration reduced gastric cancer rates. A simple example of technology reducing risk and providing a public health bonus.
Martin Dockrell showed how harm reduction is a proven strategy in public health and provided, using graphs, evidence of the comparative harm reduction offered by the new nicotine products. Martin is an engaging speaker and made a convincing argument. Pondering why the simple message “switching to smoke-free nicotine products reduces harm” isn’t getting through to the general public, he conceded that it was down to public health failing to promote this message in a climate of click-bait headlines; some of which came from elements in public health.
Sarah Jakes from the New Nicotine Alliance UK shared her story. A smoker who quit and relapsed several times, she discovered e-cigarettes and hasn’t looked back since. She went on to co-found the NNA and now works to represent consumers and advocate for tobacco harm reduction.
Gillian Golden represented the Irish Vape Vendors Association who hosted the event. Showing her ability to work right up to the deadline, she even included data from the Healthy Ireland Survey which was only published that morning. As 37% of people who quit smoking used E-cigs, more than quit using NRT, this event should have drawn interest among the stop smoking service providers.
Opening to the floor resulted in some questions and some interesting discussion. Nothing you wouldn’t know if you are keeping up with the discussion but I presume as this was the first opportunity of this kind in Dublin, not everyone there would be. The ones who needed to hear this are the public health bodies, HSE, ASH, and the health charities. I hope they availed of the opportunity. Hopefully, there will be further opportunities as this is only the beginning of the conversation here in Ireland.
[Edit] Videos of the presentations are now available on Youtube, you can watch them here along with presentations from the other GFN Dialogues.