GFN 2017: Where Vapers Mix with Scientists and Policy Experts

The fourth Global Forum on Nicotine is being held June 15-17 in Warsaw, Poland. The international conference has become a hub for policy debate and discussion on the use of low-risk nicotine products like e-cigarettes.

Unlike most similar conferences, GFN has always attracted a large number of consumers and vaping advocates. It’s a place where vapers can meet and talk with many of the scientists and policy makers that might affect our lives.

The speaker list is impressive. Along with vaping advocacy celebrities like Clive Bates and David Sweanor, the two-plus days includes presentations from researchers like Linda Bauld and Konstantinos Farsalinos, advocates like Atakan Befrits, Cynthia Cabrera and Sarah Jakes, and public health policy experts including Martin Dockrell of Public Health England, and representatives from the vaping and tobacco industries.

The keynote speech — called the Michael Russell Memorial Oration, after the pioneering nicotine researcher — will be delivered by Dr. Ethan Nadelmann, founder of the Drug Policy Alliance. Vaping and tobacco harm reduction advocates could probably benefit greatly by aligning with and learning from anti-drug war activists like Nadelmann, who has the ear of many on the American left, which has largely opposed harm reduction for smokers and recreational nicotine use. There are other drug policy experts speaking this year too, including Australian Dr. Alex Wodak, and Harry Shapiro and Prof. Gerry Stimson (also one of GFN’s founders) from the U.K.

INNCO welcomes vapers -- and asks for input


At last year’s GFN, a meeting of consumers led to the formation of a new organization, the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO), which is an umbrella group for consumer organizations around the world. Since its formation last year, 27 organizations have become INNCO members, and INNCO has been active fighting threats to nicotine consumers in many countries, as well as responding to the World Health Organization.

This year, INNCO will host a pre-GFN consumer meeting on June 15 to discuss its future and gather input from vapers. The meeting is open to all vapers and other low-risk nicotine consumers. (Disclosure: I’m on the INNCO Steering Group.) INNCO will also be presenting the Advocate of the Year awards.

If you can’t make it to Poland, you can check out the Twitter hashtag #GFN17 for updates from attendees. And videos and photos will be up on the GFN website in a few weeks. Also, keep an eye on Vaping360 for follow-up coverage!

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Jim McDonald