Tobacco Harm Reduction should be the forefront of every Public Health advocates agenda. Being touted as the first of its kind on US soil, New York City College of Technology and experts from across the field will be hosting a tobacco harm reduction conference on Thursday, April 21st, 2016 from 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM.
We live in a country where abstinence is pushed as the cure, yet it has been 40 years since the idea of tobacco harm reduction came into being. Nicotine is not the problem, we know that in reality it is no more harmful or addictive than caffeine, but we still struggle daily with people pushing the agenda that it is literally public enemy number one.
Let’s take a couple of minutes to see what this conference can do for public health, public harm reduction, and why this is a massive milestone for the vaping industry as well as other methods of bringing the smoking epidemic into check. While the focus of the conference is on mental illness and drug users who smoke, this has an impact on the discussion of the whole harm reduction ethos.
Why Is This A Big Deal
As millions upon millions of smokers are currently sitting in their homes, offices, or living their daily lives, they believe that the only way they will ever get away from the death sticks is by using prescription drugs or fighting through bouts of gum induced rage. They have been told that quitting smoking is THE ONLY way they can save themselves from a horrible death, but the truth is the prevailing wisdom for half a century is that nicotine without tobacco is a massive step in the right direction. Misinformation and misdirection have left generations pondering the question of quit and die, many of whom have chosen the latter as the former was too hard for them to do.
My analogy is telling someone who is obese that the only way they can survive is by quitting eating completely or drop dead. It may be a little on the extreme side, but to smokers it is the exact same thing.
This conference will be promoting the long overdue idea to the American medical and general community that you don’t need to go to extremes to significantly reduce the number of coffins being filled by smokers, maybe just point them in the direction of products that aren’t laden with toxins that cause cancer. We know that they are out there and a major focus of this conference will be the electronic cigarette / vaping industry.
Vaping IS Tobacco Harm Reduction
In 1976, Professor Michael Russell wrote: “People smoke for nicotine but they die from the tar”, now we have a set of products that literally fill that description. You can’t bully millions of people into doing what you want, we have a half a century that the current ideology doesn’t work, and this conference is breaking ground that can save millions of lives in the future. I hate to say this, but the only reason people are still smoking is because the alternatives are less available to the general public than the cigarettes that are deemed acceptable in every corner store around the country. I won’t sit here and preach that vaping is the only way to get smokers away from the cigarettes, but I will argue that it has a major role to play in the future of Tobacco Harm Reduction.
Who Will Be At The Event
This event has some heavy hitters stepping up to the podium. A couple of names that are well-known in the vaping industry and some that should be well-known world-wide will be taking the subject to task. I will give you a quick rundown here but over to the conference website you can find out more details, including biographies on each speaker:
Shadi Chamany, MD, MPH
Kevin McGirr, RN, MPH
Helen Redmond, LCSW
Christopher Russell, PHD
Michael Siegel, MD
Riccardo Polosa, MD
- Julie Woessner, President, CASAA
While there will be a special focus on smokers with mental illness and those with drug addiction problems, this whole event is quite literally world-changing for the whole premise of Tobacco Harm Reduction. If you are able to attend, I would strongly suggest it, although I have it on very good authority that for those of us who can not make it there will be camera’s rolling and broadcasting software kicking into high gear. My calendar has been cleared for this conference and if you are serious about saving lives from cigarettes, I would strongly suggest you mark it off on your own itinerary.
As always, enjoy your vaporizers and vape safe!