THR Advocacy-Science and Consumers

THR advocacy
Dr David Abrams at GFN 2019
Charles at Parliament house

Commitment vs. Efficacy

I recently returned from the Global Forum on Nicotine, where some 700 like-minded individuals gathered to discuss various aspects of tobacco harm reduction. Although the topic of this years conference was “It’s time to talk about nicotine”, and it is, I was also focused on how best the NNA can maximise its efforts. 

How should we move forward and moreover, how can we effect change? Is the consumer element of THR really a significant part of the equation? Can a collective of passionate advocates influence policy and facilitate a shift in government and societal thinking? 

I’m left pondering, and yet, I sit here some 4 years into advocacy in Australia, continuing to face an unwavering opposition. The anti-vape brigade are a powerful force, relentless in their mission – To offer up more disparagement to vaping than that of smoking.

Putting aside my ideology or sense of pragmatism, is it not in the interests of public health, and all who reside in this country, to stand behind something that has the ability to improve the lives of its people? Both smokers and non-smokers.

Yes, it is all about the people. I have seen over and over again just how significant THR products are to a smoker. Many who have made the transition consider them a lifesaver.

 

Unification is key

There are those who believe that the only voices heard are those that represent science, medicine and or health care. Therefore, they are the ones sufficiently armed to initiate amendments to our draconian policies. 

It may not surprise you but I disagree with this theory. All voices are needed.

Those representing the above professions are vitally important, as they offer the research and empirical evidence that substantiates the facts surrounding the use of tobacco harm reduction products; be it smokeless tobacco, Heat not Burn, or vaping.

In contrast, consumers and or consumer advocates represent the opinions and experiences of individuals. Personal stories are powerful. How many have moved away from combustible tobacco to a proven less-harmful alternative, is a worthwhile read or listen. 

All great ideas, theories or movements, started with a single thought by a single individual. This is the point I wish to drive home. Never think your voice is irrelevant because it’s not. We may all agree on a particular viewpoint, but we often have a different angle, or means to tackle a given predicament. 

The status quo in relation to THR must not continue, albeit it may for some time. Being an optimist, it’s easy for me to say that change will come, as I simply cannot accept that it will not.

However, In order to for this to happen, we all must play a role. Back up the findings that research offers by telling your story. Be passionate, polite, yet firm in your beliefs. How and why was vaping or other forms of THR helpful? 

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, yet, those elected and honoured with the position of representing Australia (among other nations or regions) overlook and or ignore the obvious contributions that THR has and will continue to make.

If you, a friend or loved one have any experience with THR products or advocacy in general, and wish to share your thoughts, please leave a comment below.    

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