Global Forum on Nicotine

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The Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) is an annual event organised by London-based Knowledge Action Change Limited (KAC), which is headed by Professor Gerry Stimson.

The event was first held in 2014 to facilitate discussion about the science and understanding of nicotine between "consumers, researchers, regulators, public health, tobacco control, policy analysts, and industry".[1]

The GFN should not be confused with the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum (GTNF), an annual tobacco-industry event.

Relationship with the Tobacco Industry

Tobacco Industry Speakers and Panellists

Supporting and facilitating dialogue with the tobacco industry, the GFN event has provided a platform for the tobacco industry to promote its efforts in tobacco harm reduction.[2] In 2018, GFN scheduled speakers included Laura Leigh Oyler from Reynolds American Inc (RAI), Oscar Camacho from British American Tobacco (BAT), and Christelle Haziza from Philip Morris International(PMI).[3][4] In 2017, invited speakers included two senior PMI employees who used the event to promote PMI's Heated Tobacco Products.[2][5][6] That year David O’Reilly, BAT’s Scientific Director was a panellist at a session on "Nicotine Futures: the tobacco industry and public health".[7] Cecilia Kindstrand-Isaksson, Director Public Affairs at Swedish Match, presented her company’s perspective on harm reduction and strongly criticised EU tobacco regulation that bans snus sales.[8]

Other invited GFN speakers with tobacco industry links have included:

Tobacco Interests on the Programme Committee

Robyn Gougelet, Senior Associate at consultancy Pinney Associates, was a member of the GFN 2018 Programme Committee.[11]

Gougelet’s tobacco harm reduction consultancy work is exclusively funded by American tobacco company RAI.[12] For more details on its relationship with the tobacco industry, click here.

Tobacco Funding Through ISoNTech?

The GFN declares that it does not accept tobacco industry funding. In June 2018, its website stated that the Conference:

"is funded by registration fees and does not receive any sponsorship from manufacturers, distributors or retailers of nicotine products including pharmaceutical, electronic cigarette and tobacco companies."[13]

However, since 2017 the GFN takes place “alongside” the International Symposium on Nicotine Technology (ISoNTech),[13] which is part-funded by tobacco companies as shown below. ISoNTech is a parallel event for the tobacco and nicotine industries to showcase its harm reduction products (e.g. e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products, and smokeless tobacco), and promote these products to GFN attendees who can attend ISoNTech for free.[14] Despite ISoNTech and GFN being presented as two separate events, they are both organised by KAC[15][16][13] and in 2018 shared a joint programme.[17] Even though ISoNTech 2018 took place on 14 June only, its website promised clients that “the exhibition stand will be displayed in the ISoNTech area throughout GFN 18” for which the main sessions took place on 15 and 16 June.[18] The GFN programme suggested that the foyer in which the ISoNTech exhibition stands were located would be used for coffee and lunch breaks as well as poster presentations, giving tobacco companies direct access to attendees.[17]

ISoNTech is part-funded through exhibition space packages. Image 1 shows the ISoNTech Floorplan as per 9 May 2018, and illustrates that the exhibition area was occupied by multinational tobacco corporations, notably PMI, BAT, JTI, and Altria.[18] The size and arrangement of the exhibition stands on the floorplan imply that each tobacco company paid for the £7000 ISoNTech Premium package. This premium packages offered the company a speaker slot on the main stage, a larger exhibition stand, and two registrations to GFN. Other companies with ISoNTech exhibition stands included RJ Reynolds and Swedish Match.

Image 1: ISoNTech floorplan 9 May 2018[19]

Scholarship Programme Indirectly Funded by Tobacco Company

KAC and the GFN jointly launched a Tobacco Harm Reduction Scholarship Programme in 2018, which is sponsored by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (image 2), which is sole-funded by PMI.[20]

Image 2: GFN Tobacco Harm Reduction Scholarship Programme (source: gnf.net.co/scholarships, accessed February 2018)

The sponsorship programme, which in 2018 awarded 15 scholarships to projects up to the value of US$7,500 each, aimed to:

  • build research capacity in the field of tobacco harm reduction;
  • develop the evidence base;
  • raise awareness of research and its implications for public health policy;
  • enable consumers to make more informed personal health choices; and
  • improve the implementation and understanding of tobacco harm reduction.[20]

GFN's acceptance of funding from the tobacco-industry funded Foundation goes against World Health Organization's (WHO) recommendation,[21] which urged governments and the public health community not to partner with the Foundation:

"…research and advocacy funded by tobacco companies and their front groups cannot be accepted at face value. When it comes to the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World there are a number of clear conflicts of interest involved with a tobacco company funding a purported health foundation particularly if it promotes sale of tobacco and other products found in that company's brand portfolio".

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Secretariat has also issued a strongly-worded statement against collaboration with the Foundation:[22]

"The Convention Secretariat regards this tobacco industry-funded initiative as a clear attempt to breach the WHO FCTC by interfering in public policy… There is extensive experience of tobacco-industry funded research that was later used to prevent effective tobacco control policies. It is clear that the industry aims to follow the same path in the area of non-traditional tobacco products, which are unregulated in many countries".

TobaccoTactics Resources

Relevant Link

TCRG Research

Notes

  1. Global Forum on Nicotine, First Global Forum on Nicotine, Marriott Hotel, Warsaw, Poland, 27-28 June 2014, undated, accessed February 2018
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Global Forum on Nicotine, Presentations 2017, 2017, accessed February 2018
  3. Global Forum on Nicotine, Speakers 2018: Camacho, undated, accessed June 2018
  4. Global Forum on Nicotine, Speakers 2018: Haziza, undated, accessed June 2018
  5. M. Gilchrist, Heated Tobacco Technology: Science, Behavior and Avoiding Unintended Consequences, Philip Morris International, 16 June 2017, accessed February 2018
  6. T. Mc Grath, What is combustion and why is the absence of combustion important for heat not burn products, Philip Morris International, 16 June 2017, accessed February 2018
  7. Global Forum on Nicotine, Nicotine futures-the tobacco industry and public health, youtube.com, published on 29 June 2017, accessed February 2018
  8. C. Kindstrand-Isaksson, Q: Borderline and novel products, markets and consumers, are regulations fit for purpose? A: No!, 17 June 2017, accessed February 2018
  9. Global Forum on Nicotine, Speakers 2018: Kleykamp, undated, accessed June 2018
  10. 10.0 10.1 Global Forum on Nicotine, Speakers 2014, undated, accessed February 2018
  11. Global Forum on Nicotine, GFN18 Programme Committee, 2018, accessed February 2018
  12. Pinney Associates, Tobacco Harm Reduction, 2018, accessed June 2018
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Global Forum on Nicotine, GFN home page, 2018, accessed June 2018
  14. Global Forum on Nicotine, 2018 Welcome, undated, accessed June 2018
  15. Whois, isontech.info Domain Information, last updated 8 June 2018, accessed June 2018
  16. ISoNTech, ISoNTech home, accessed June 2018
  17. 17.0 17.1 GFN, GFN + ISoNTech 2018 Programme, undated, accessed June 2018
  18. 18.0 18.1 ISoNTech, Exhibition Packages, accessed June 2018
  19. ISoNTech, Exhibition Packages, 9 May 2018, accessed June 2018
  20. 20.0 20.1 Global Forum on Nicotine, Tobacco Harm Reduction Scholarships, 2018, accessed February 2018
  21. World Health Organization, WHO Statement on Philip Morris funded Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, 28 September 2017, accessed February 2018
  22. FCTC Secretariat, WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Secretariat's statement on the launch of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, 19 September 2017, accessed February 2018