The 3rd Scientific Summit on Tobacco Harm Reduction —virtual event— starts Thursday, September 24th

The 3rd Scientific Summit on Tobacco Harm Reduction —virtual event— starts Thursday, September 24th
The 3rd Scientific Summit on Tobacco Harm Reduction —virtual event— starts Thursday, September 24th

The 3rd Scientific Summit on Tobacco Harm Reduction: Novel products, Research & Policy, this year goes virtual, with the participation of scientists from around the globe. The Summit starts on Thursday, September 24th extending in two full days with 16 sessions and about 50 speakers from 26 countries[1].

The frequency of alternative tobacco product use (e-cigarettes, Heat-not-Burn products, loose leaf, snus, etc.) among smokers and the association with switch and quit attempts is increasing; the scientific community is debating, in the attempt to explain the benefits and the risks associated with these products. Despite knowing the harmful health effects of smoking for decades, still more than 1 billion people globally smoke and more than 7 million die prematurely every year from smoking-related disease.

Smoking cessation and prevention remain the most impactful and cost-effective interventions in medicine. Healthcare professionals and public health experts need to continuously raise awareness to every smoker and to the population as a whole about the adverse effects of smoking. In an era of accelerating progress and technological innovation, new approaches emerge based on potentially safer alternatives than cigarettes, for those smokers, who for various reasons cannot give up smoking completely, i.e. Tobacco Harm Reduction. Health issues are emerging that demand more research and sound interpretation of research and clinical data. Nicotine has an addictive potential but plays a minor role in smoking related mortality. In an epistemological climate where perceptions on the effects of nicotine is inconsistent with medical consensus, the 3rd Scientific Summit aims at providing stakeholders with science-based balanced information on alternative tobacco products.

The Scientific Summit is organised for the third year by the Department of Biochemistry-Biotechnology, Postgraduate Program “Toxicology” of the University of Thessaly, and the Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Immunology, Department of Pharmacy of the University of Patras; in collaboration with the Department of Public & Community Health, University of West Attica, Athens, and the 2nd Cardiology Dept., University Hospital Attikon, Medical School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. The Cyprus Institute of Respiratory Diseases, Nicosia, Cyprus joined to support the Summit organisers, together with top researchers, clinicians, and scientists from diverse fields, from around the world.

Prominent scientists feature in the agenda, such as Scientific Summit’s keynote speakers: David T. Sweanor J.D., chair of the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics and adjunct professor of Law at the University of Ottawa, Canada who has worked on tobacco and health policy issues for decades, and will speak about risk proportionate regulation; and David Khayat, Former President of the National Cancer Institute of France, Professor of Medical Oncology, who will speak about the role of the scientific and medical community in tobacco control strategies.

Various facets of Public Health Policy and Regulation will be presented and discussed at the relevant session, namely an assessment of worldwide Harm Reduction Strategies, the standards to be used by authorities to address the challenges of alternative nicotine products, and the example of FDA on risk communication, by expert speakers: Karl Fagerstrom, Clive Bates, Michael Toumbis.

Whether Tobacco Harm Reduction should become a public health policy tool globally, will be the subject of the main panel discussion on Day 2, where key opinion leaders and regulatory authorities representatives from 8 different countries will share their views in a discussion coordinated by Professor Panos Vardas, MD.

A lecture dedicated in the new legislation on smoking control in Greece, which will be presented by Ioannis Faropoulos, consultant at the Hellenic Ministry of Health, is also under “health policy” thematic category.

The clinical assessment and research studies presenting the most recent data on e-cigarettes, clinical data on switching from smoking to a tobacco heating system, and other effects of novel smoking products in users are presented in the afternoon session of the Summit’s first day.

Original scientific studies that will be included in a special issue edited by Summit’s organisers Demetrios Kouretas & Konstantinos Poulas will be presented in the opening session entitled “Novel nicotine-delivering products: toxicology, regulation, and health issues”. Also selected abstracts submitted to the Scientific Summit will be presented by authors on the 1st day, under thematic categories Epidemiology & Social Issues, Preclinical Evaluation, Smoking Cessation, and Clinical Assessment and Harm Reduction. The remaining submitted abstracts will be posted on the event’s website for viewing as e-posters throughout the event.

Many more sessions compose the Summit’s agenda such as: a session on Tobacco Control Policies, a session on the “hot topic” of COVID-19 and its link to nicotinic cholinergic system; a panel discussion on the hottest issue: “The doctor’s dilemma: Providing guidance on alternative smoking products to adult smokers amid controversy and change”; a panel discussion on how Tobacco Harm Reduction may be perceived and practiced in low- and middle-income countries, and, lastly, a panel discussion on bioethics and the smokers’ right on credible information.

Experts—scientists (all sectors), medical doctors, policy experts, behavioural experts, academics or professionals—participating in the Summit’s discussions during the course of several working meetings, acknowledged the need to step up the efforts to achieve tobacco control and limit the negative effects of smoking also using tobacco harm reduction approaches. Hence, at the closing of the 3rd Scientific Summit, the founding of an International Association of international experts on Smoking Control & Harm Reduction (SCOHR), allowing for open and constructive dialogue and helping to come up with a new broader approach to smoking control policies will be announced, followed by a voting and endorsement of the Association Founders’ Position Statement.

Visit the Summit’s website to view the Programme & Speakers:

[1] Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Costa-Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malta, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, Tunisia