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Friday
Oct052018

Greetings from Geneva

Greetings from Geneva.

Arrived here on Thursday to catch the closing days of the Eighth session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

My flight from Luton was delayed by fog but you’ll be pleased to know that the weather is lovely here. Warm, sunny, clear blue skies.

As for COP8, there’s very little to report or comment on - barely a rumour - which is par for the course.

As usual this biannual event is taking place in a shroud of secrecy - amazing, really, when you consider that taxpayers like you and me are paying for it.

The media has been excluded but what really interests me is the lack of dissent from journalists and broadcasters. No-one seems to care.

I suspect it’s partly because, in Geneva at least, conferences like this are ten-a-penny and the boredom factor must be pretty high.

Barred from the main event, the IEA’s Chris Snowdon and I nevertheless wandered up to the Geneva International Conference Centre where the conference is taking place, took a few pictures (as you do), and then watched as one delegate shuffled out and lit a cigarette.

Introducing myself, I gave him my card and asked him how the conference was going and where he came from. Speaking with what sounded like a German accent, he smiled, puffed on his cigarette and replied enigmatically, “I come from many countries.”

He was on the budget committee, apparently, but that’s all he would say.

We then visited the ‘science booth’ (above) set up by Philip Morris International at a chic boutique hotel to promote the company’s alternative nicotine products.

Some devices are not yet on the market. There’s a new generation iQOS, for example, that is so much like a cigarette that you actually ignite the heating element with a proper match.

In my view the more it’s possible to replicate the act and taste of smoking tobacco the greater the chance of persuading a larger numbers of smokers to switch.

The downside is that tobacco control campaigners are so hostile to cigarettes and tobacco generally that any product that more closely resembles a cigarette is likely to face severe opposition and/or restrictions.

If PMI was hoping that delegates from COP8 would pop by to take a look I think they’ll be disappointed, even though some delegates are believed to be staying in the same hotel.

Anyway we haven’t let the lack of information coming out of COP8 spoil the party. Last night we had a very enjoyable dinner with some local contacts that involved cooking our own beef at the table. The practise has a name but I can’t remember what it is.

Today I’ve been catching up with what little news there is from COP8, writing a couple of blog posts, and enjoying the sunshine. (Did I mention the lovely weather?)

Tonight Chris Snowdon has arranged a little soirée at our hotel. It will be attended by, among others, the handful of pro-vaping campaigners who are in Geneva to protest against the WHO’s position on e-cigarettes which falls short of prohibition but doesn’t discourage countries that want to ban the devices.

It will be interesting to see how many people turn up. The only ‘protest’ I’ve seen so far was pretty low key but I’m told this is due to local regulations that make it difficult to demonstrate.

I’m hoping the legendary Aaron Biebert will join us. If that happens it will make the entire trip worthwhile.

Update: Saturday morning and I’m sitting outside our hotel, on a terrace, drinking coffee, waiting to catch a mid afternoon flight home.

I did meet Aaron Biebert and he is very charming, a really nice guy.

After Chris Snowdon’s event, attended by about 20 people, mostly vapers, we went in search of somewhere to eat and I found myself playing pool and ordering pizza in the Elvis Billiards lounge bar.

The tweet below is dripping with sarcasm, obviously.

More seriously, thanks to Chris for inviting me to join him. Excluded from COP8, our two days in Geneva have been far more enjoyable than I anticipated.

See also: The World Health Organisation’s week (Chris Snowdon)

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Reader Comments (2)

More power to you Simon, Chris Snowdon and others making the effort to fight the arrogant 'we know best' prohibitionist tobacco control bullies. I would be there in person, but Geneva is too distant from east coast Australia for a quick protest visit. Also, please consider more articles on the obscenely punitive level of tobacco taxes inflicted on Australian smokers, currently at $1007/kg or £555/kg, 800% ad valorem, while the anti smoking zealots claim in true Orwellian doublespeak to be 'helping' smokers reach their tobacco free nirvana. We neither want or need such 'help' and the meddlers must be told they have no standing or authority to interfere in private lifestyle preferences.

Friday, October 5, 2018 at 22:19 | Unregistered CommenterMark Jarratt

I do hope Beibart also gets the message that smokers don't want or need his "help" to convert anymore than we want the "help" of tobacco control to quit.

It is such a shame that some of us smokers who really would have liked to have made our presence felt have mundane and boring every day things to do like work for a living without being able to take days off on a whim.

If I had known about it quite a bit in advance then it would have been possible to attend. Sadly, too often an inability to show willing by smokers is taken by vapers as nothing more than smokers not being prepared to fight for their rights but at least you were there as our representative to speak up for us as you always do so thanks again.

Saturday, October 6, 2018 at 13:32 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

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