What is tobacco harm reduction?

Harm reduction is an evidence-based public health approach grounded in human rights. It consists of pragmatic policies, regulations and actions that reduce health risks to individuals and communities by, for example, providing access to safer forms of products or substances, or encouraging less risky behaviours. Harm reduction does not focus exclusively on the eradication of products or behaviours, recognising that prohibition often leads to unintended consequences.

The safer nicotine products that are available today – including nicotine vapes (e-cigarettes), nicotine pouches, Swedish-style oral snus and heated tobacco products – have been shown in multiple independent, international research studies to be demonstrably and significantly safer than smoking tobacco. Tobacco harm reduction therefore encourages people who smoke and who cannot or do not want to stop using nicotine to switch from combustible cigarettes to safer nicotine products.

What is the Global Forum on Nicotine?

The Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) is the only international conference to focus on the role of safer nicotine products that help people switch from smoking. Safer nicotine products include nicotine vapes (e-cigarettes ), nicotine pouches, oral tobacco products such as Swedish snus, and heated tobacco products. This is a rapidly evolving area, with many new non-combustible products emerging over the past ten to fifteen years.

The rapid development and use of safer nicotine products raises a number of challenging scientific questions about their safety, who uses them and why, and their impact on smoking. These products also raise challenges for governments who seek to provide appropriate policy and regulation. GFN examines the rapidly developing science in relation to nicotine and its use, including policy and regulatory responses.

Who attends GFN?

This is the only global event that welcomes all stakeholders involved with new and safer nicotine products, including:

  • consumers and consumer advocates;
  • policy analysts;
  • public health experts;
  • parliamentarians and government officials;
  • academics and researchers;
  • product manufacturers and distributors; 
  • media representatives.
How long has GFN been in existence?

GFN started in 2014 with 200 delegates from 26 countries. By 2019, it had grown to 600 delegates representing 80+ nations. The 2020 online edition attracted over 600 people from 92 countries.

What makes GFN different?

We bring together the many people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to speak with each other. Unique among conferences on nicotine and smoking, we ensure that consumer and consumer advocacy organisations participate as well as manufacturers. These groups are often excluded from other international meetings and events, despite playing a critical role in informing and shaping the debates around safer nicotine products and tobacco harm reduction.

Who is involved in these issues?

Many different groups are involved in, or are affected by, developments in safer nicotine products. These include:

  • consumers, including people who have switched to these products or are thinking of doing so;
  • academics and researchers, who are faced with new research questions about the safety and use of these products;
  • parliamentarians and government officials, who need to consider what kind of regulation is appropriate;
  • manufacturers, involved in developing and marketing new products;
  • public health experts, who need to advise populations about smoking, smoking cessation and safer nicotine products.
Why focus on nicotine rather than smoking?

Smoking tobacco is the most harmful way of using nicotine. It is the tars and gases in cigarette smoke that are harmful to health. Many people find it hard to stop smoking because they find it hard to go without nicotine. Ensuring that lower risk products are accessible helps people to switch from smoking and avoid the associated health risks. This is known as tobacco harm reduction.

How can journalists register their interest in attending?

The organisers of the Global Forum on Nicotine encourage participation from media representatives both onsite and online. Register your interest in attending #GFN24 as a media representative by emailing help[at]gfn.events. Find out more at the Media Centre.

How is GFN funded?

The conference is funded by registration fees and does not receive any sponsorship from manufacturers, distributors or retailers of nicotine products, including pharmaceutical, vaping (e-cigarette) and tobacco companies.

We aim to make the conference as accessible as possible, particularly for individual consumers, consumer advocates, students and NGOs. Our pricing structure for other professional delegate categories has changed recently, which is a result of the challenging and unpredictable environment for sustainable event planning and management due to the pandemic.