Launch of Tobacco Harm Reduction and the Right to Health
In the fine surroundings of London’s Guildhall on 23rd January, the London Drug and Alcohol Policy Forum (LDPF) and its chair, David MacKintosh, kindly hosted the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction (GSTHR) and an invited audience of 60 people for the launch of the GSTHR’s latest publication.
Tobacco harm reduction and the right to health offers a brief overview of tobacco harm reduction and its role in tackling the global public health crisis of tobacco smoking. Naming it a crisis is not overstating the issue; estimates suggest that every year, seven million people die of tobacco-related disease worldwide - more than malaria, tuberculosis and HIV combined. The new briefing paper argues that both access to and accurate information about safer nicotine products - including nicotine e-cigarettes, snus and heated tobacco products - are an important part of the right to health for all.
The audience heard first from the LDPF’s David MacKintosh, who spoke about his career working with people who use drugs and alcohol; David remarked that clients’ tobacco use was rarely addressed by treatment providers, despite its significant impact on their physical health.
Professor Gerry Stimson of the GSTHR team, spoke about his experience working on other areas of harm reduction, including drug use and HIV/AIDS work. In his speech, Gerry noted the stark contrast between the active destigmatisation of HIV/AIDS to encourage people to access help, and the stigma leveraged against smokers to ‘encourage’ them to quit.
Ruth Goldsmith, of the GSTHR team and author of the briefing paper, spoke about the need to build support for tobacco harm reduction, especially among allies working with people whose lives are most dramatically impacted by tobacco smoking.
Dr. Roberto Sussman, of Pro-Vapeo Mexico, offered his perspective as a scientist, advocate and consumer. He spoke about both the need for, and particular challenges facing, a harm reduction approach in Mexico and Latin America more widely. The briefing will be launched in both English and Spanish by the GSTHR and Pro-Vapeo in Mexico City in late February 2020.
The video of the speeches can be found here.
Please note that translations into multiple additional languages are currently underway.