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 Gerry Stimson.

The event was first held in 2014 and is purportedly intended to facilitate discussions 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

The GFN's website (accessed in February 2018) states 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."[2]

However, the GFN does have indirect links to tobacco industry funding.

Scholarship Programme Indirectly Funded by Tobacco Company

The GFN and KAC launched the Tobacco Harm Reduction Scholarship Programme in 2018, which is sponsored by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (image 1), which is sole-funded by Philip Morris International (PMI).[3]

Image 1: 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.[3]

"Breaching" FCTC Rules

GFN's acceptance of funding from the tobacco-industry funded Foundation goes against World Health Organization's (WHO) recommendation,[4] 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:[5]

"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".

Tobacco Interests on the Programme Committee

One of the members of the GFN 2018 Programme Committee, Robyn Gougelet, involved in GFN's 'Policy, Advocacy and Practice Track', represents tobacco interests.[6]

Gougelet is a Senior Associate at Pinney Associates, a consultancy whose tobacco harm reduction work is exclusively funded by American tobacco company Reynolds American. For more details on this third party's relationship with the tobacco industry, click here.

Tobacco Industry Speakers and Panellists

In the past, the GFN event has provided a platform for the tobacco industry to push its harm reduction approach to tobacco regulation and urge for dialogue between the tobacco industry, regulators and the public health community.[7]

For example, in 2017, two senior PMI employees were invited speakers, and used the event to promote PMI's Heat Not Burn activities and products.[7] Moira Gilchrist, PMI Vice President Scientific and Public Communications, held a talk about "Heated Tobacco Technology: Science, Behavior [sic] and Avoiding Unintended Consequences".[8] PMI's Reduced Risk Products Manager, Thomas Mc Grath, held a presentation entitled "What is combustion and why is the absence of combustion important for heat not burn products".[9]

PMI was not the only tobacco company represented at GFN 2017.

David O’Reilly, British American Tobacco's Scientific Director, was a panellist at a session on "Nicotine Futures: the tobacco industry and public health".[10] Cecilia Kindstrand-Isaksson, Director Public Affairs at Swedish Match, presented on the alleged harm reduction opportunities offered by Smokeless Tobacco product snus.[7] Isaksson's presentation strongly criticised EU tobacco regulation that bans snus sales.[11]

Other GFN speakers with tobacco industry links have included:

Affiliations

One of GFN's "supporting organisations" is the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA), chaired by Stimson.[3]

The NNA is supporting a legal challenge in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) initiated by tobacco company Swedish Match in 2017 to challenge the EU snus sales ban.[13]

The ECJ held a hearing in January 2018 and is expected to make a ruling later in the year.[14]

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. Global Forum on Nicotine, Frequently Asked Questions about GFN: How is the GFN Funded?, undated, accessed February 2018
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Global Forum on Nicotine, Tobacco Harm Reduction Scholarships, 2018, accessed February 2018
  4. World Health Organization, WHO Statement on Philip Morris funded Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, 28 September 2017, accessed February 2018
  5. 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
  6. Global Forum on Nicotine, GFN18 Programme Committee, 2018, accessed February 2018
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Global Forum on Nicotine, Presentations 2017, 2017, accessed February 2018
  8. M. Gilchrist, Heated Tobacco Technology: Science, Behavior and Avoiding Unintended Consequences, Philip Morris International, 16 June 2017, accessed February 2018
  9. 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
  10. Global Forum on Nicotine, Nicotine futures-the tobacco industry and public health, youtube.com, published on 29 June 2017, accessed February 2018
  11. C. Kindstrand-Isaksson, Q: Borderline and novel products, markets and consumers, are regulations fit for purpose? A: No!, 17 June 2017, accessed February 2018
  12. 12.0 12.1 Global Forum on Nicotine, Speakers 2014, undated, accessed February 2018
  13. New Nicotine Alliance, NNA goes to the High Court to challenge the ban on snus, 19 January 2017, accessed February 2018
  14. European Court of Justice, Swedish Match Case C-151/17, curia.europa.eu, undated, accessed February 2018