As far as I know, GFN is unique in welcoming attendees from all interested stakeholders, including 'public health', industry, consumers and just about anyone else who is interested. Unlike other conferences we could mention, there are no reporting restrictions and no-one is denied a chance to voice their opinions.
Now, I may be wrong, but I can't think of any other arena where mingling areas can contain for example - within yards of each other - representatives from organisations like ASH, companies like Imperial Tobacco, journalists, vapers, smokers, and erm, me. And no-one throws a paddy about it. How very grown up and civilised, eh?
On such a note, a couple of sessions have jumped out at me already. I mean, how about this?
|Click to enlarge|
An article in Vapor Voice magazine this month by a BAT scientist makes the case for industry researchers to be given a chance to chip in too.
Science students are more likely to end up working for an industrial organization than for a government or university. They can’t all be bad. That is not to say that mistakes have not been made in the past. But surely we can learn from these mistakes and work together to engender a culture of transparency and collaboration—to fulfill our duty of care and to ensure that society benefits from the immeasurable good possible through scientific and technical innovation and expertise.
It cannot be right to judge an industry based on incidents that happened many decades ago, in a different world, in a different century. Indeed, generations of scientists have passed through the doors of the research laboratories of the tobacco industry since then.Well yes, but tobacco control dies on its arse if it has to admit that its own methods are now far more packed with lies than those of 'Big Tobacco'. Which is increasingly true, as someone who once taught tobacco controllers in the art often explains.
One thing that used to distinguish the anti-tobacco movement from the tobacco industry is that we always told the truth while the industry often lied. Unfortunately, and ironically, the tables have now turned.Don't we just know that, eh?
Yet journals such as the BMJ now exclude any science produced by able scientists in the tobacco industry, while simultaneously being perfectly happy about 'public health' professionals knowingly lying on their pages.
The Vapor Voice article continues in the same vein ...
In the past few years, hundreds of millions have been invested by the tobacco industry in e-cigarettes and other next-generation products. These products are now used by millions of consumers. Vaping represents a new subculture, with its own jargon and its own technology. High levels of investment means that this technology is evolving rapidly and is often the topic of conversation, controversy and debate. Almost every day, e-cigarettes appear in the mainstream media. Vaping is trending!Ain't it just!
Search social media for vaping or e-cigs and you'll be overwhelmed by a rapid turnover of messages that it is difficult to keep up with. News outlets are struggling to keep up too, and publish dozens of articles every single day. It's a big subject that needs plenty of analysis from all corners, to not do that and instead forbid some from commenting while other - arguably more conflicted and mendacious - vested interests are handed a one-sided debate would be quite absurd. It would also be a disservice to the public not to allow all opinions to be heard.
So, as you can imagine, I'm rather looking forward to that particular session. I also hope that the tobacco controllers who are attending are not so petty as to turn their nose up at it because it would be immensely childish if they were to do so.
There is also a section of the Saturday afternoon plenary which a good friend of mine should find attractive enough to board a plane to Poland for.
Are vaping advocates throwing smokers under the bus by making alliances with public health? Luc Van Daele (EVUN, Belgium)I feel sure that my friend would have quite a lot to say on that particular matter considering he's written many a blog article about exactly that scenario in recent months. And, as if I really need to remind him about an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, GFN is also offering a European first screening of A Billion Lives which he has expressed an interest in watching.
Hopefully this will be too irresistible a draw for him to not come share a Żywiec or two over there.
In fact, if anyone else fancies joining me over there in June, go have a look at the GFN site. You'll be buying the first round, obviously, but I always buy back. It's rude not to.