Experts around the world have come together to call for increased access to reliable information against tobacco harm control.
The experts stated this during a plenary discussion at a Global Forum on Nicotine with the theme, “Tobacco Harm Reduction – here for good.”
The theme of the forum explained that harm reduction through safer nicotine products can hasten the end of smoking and other risky tobacco use, while trying to explore the science behind the approach, the policy and regulatory changes needed to maximise its potential and the barriers to its implementation around the world.
The session which was hosted by David MacKintosh, with panelists, Angeles Muntadas-Prim, Konstantinos Farsalinos and Cecilia Kindstrand- Isaksson, stressed the need for adequate provision of information as a core platform of consumer rights.
Speaking, Farsalinos said what matters in any harm reduction strategy is to avoid inequalities in terms of accessibility to proper reliable information and accessibility to the tools.
He lamented that the whole political movement globally is moving to a direction that individuals do not like in the tobacco control movement.
“Everyone has a role to play in the industry with their own vested interests, the consumers, the scientists, every citizen as a political subject because you know, not only professional politicians, are politicians, every citizen, every active citizen is also a politician.
“That’s the main problem that we’re seeing, of course, products will never disappear. But what matters in any harm reduction strategy for whatever and of course, in this case for smoking, what matters is to avoid inequalities and inequalities in terms of accessibility to proper reliable information, accessibility to the tools.
“So they are reducing accessibility to the products’ appeal of these tools. People who smoke should like these products, they try to make them horrible.
“And of course smokers will not try anything horrible and no one is going to eat or drink anything with smells or tastes horribly. The problem is going to be access to tobacco harm reduction, an example of Spain and that’s the second time such an assault on vaping has happened in Spain.
“And I think that this is what we should be discussing: how we will increase access to reliable information which will translate into knowledge. For non experts, I’m talking about citizens, about smokers. Everyone deserves the truth even non smokers should know the truth and then end up with access to cheap, reliable, good quality products with the variability media,” he said.
Also speaking, Muntadas-Prim called on institutions and governments to provide the truth and stop the stigma against smokers.
“What I really would like is specially institutions to stop lying, governments stop lying, stop stigma, and then of course on demonised nicotine, nicotine is not that bad,” says Muntadas-Prim.
To Kindstrand- Isaksson, said harm reduction is here for good and it’s here to stay but lamented the barriers facing it.
She lamented what is going on in Spain where there is a draft bill to make vape shops disappear completely.
“On the other hand, if of course, no vape shop is going to go through this transition because they’re not going to be selling combustibles but for instance, tobacconists might or might not sell vaping products. I mean, it’s up to them. Well, I mean, the government wants to monopolize the nicotine market.”