GFN - just another echo chamber?
Saturday, June 15, 2019 at 11:01
Simon Clark

The Global Forum on Nicotine is meeting in Warsaw as I write.

Everyone can come and no-one is prohibited from speaking, say the organisers.

That may be true but attending a conference as a delegate does not give you the same platform as a panellist or speaker.

If you’re lucky you may catch the moderator’s eye and be invited to ask a question towards the end of a session, if it hasn’t over-run.

Or you may be allowed to make a very short point before your fellow delegates rush for the exit and a well-deserved ‘comfort break’.

What is beyond argument is that being in the audience is not the same as being a panellist or speaker.

Anyway, in response to the ‘no-one is prohibited from speaking’ message, I tweeted:

‘No-one is prohibited to speak.’ Maybe not, but when was the last time someone representing confirmed smokers (those who don’t want to quit) was invited to speak on a panel or give a keynote address? #gfn19

— Simon Clark (@simonclark_) June 13, 2019

This led to several tweets in response including one from someone who helpfully highlighted a blog post I’d written in June 2017.

It was inspired by an email I’d received from one of the organisers of GFN who took me to task for writing and tweeting a “lot of inaccurate stuff” about the conference.

He then invited me to attend GFN but as a delegate not as a speaker.

I replied in what I thought was a friendly and constructive manner. I made several suggestions and even proposed we meet for coffee and a chat.

That was two years ago. I am still waiting for a reply.

Meanwhile, despite insisting that ‘We are the only event that brings together a wide range of stakeholders who otherwise might never meet each other’, the Global Forum on Nicotine continues to ignore a rather important stakeholder - the millions of consumers who enjoy smoking and don’t want to switch to vaping.

You might have thought the views of this substantial group would be of some interest and relevance to advocates of tobacco harm reduction but apparently not.

Before I’m dismissed as a Luddite and horribly unfair to GFN, read my 2017 post in full. I’m actually quite respectful and describe the conference as a ‘huge success’ - see GFN: I would if I could but I can’t.

Anyway, while vaping advocates have been chewing the fat in the heat of Warsaw I’ve been doing my bit by appearing on BBC radio ridiculing a call by England’s Chief Medical Officer to restrict the use of e-cigarettes to vapers’ homes and gardens.

You can add it to the many other interviews I've done defending or supporting vaping on the BBC both at home and abroad.

Thanks to David Newell (a vaper) for posting it on YouTube.

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