Friday 17th June (1000-1300)

The meeting was convened by the organisers of the GFN to enable consumer advocates attending to consider a plan to form a new international organisation to represent the interests of nicotine consumers, particularly in relation to international organisations, including WHO/FCTC and other UN bodies, which have an impact on regulation and use of products.

A total of 44 consumer advocates attended the meeting, from 13 countries. Kevin Molloy chaired the meeting, with David MacKintosh taking notes.

Presentations were made by Clive Bates (the Counterfactual Blog) who introduced the paper that had been prepared for discussion, Jeannie Cameron (from JCIC) who spoke on the FCTC and ways consumers might engage with it, and finally by Dr Chris Ford (International Doctors for Healthy Drug Policies) who spoke about the parallels between nicotine consumer advocacy and models developed in the field of illicit drug use.

The meeting opened with all present introducing themselves and, where applicable, the organisations they represented.

Kevin Molloy began proceedings mentioning discussion that had been held at GFN 2015 about bringing advocacy groups together to enhance international collaboration and seek to influence developments at a global level.

Clive Bates Introduced the paper: The Case for an International Network to Represent the Interests of Nicotine Consumers. He identified a number of areas for international collaboration and described some of the international policy landscape, including the World Health Organisation and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. He highlighted areas and issues existing at an international level, including the regulation of nicotine products as medicines or poisons, and the taxation as tobacco products. He also identified the opportunities for an international solidarity and support, including examples of individuals in Australia and India who were facing legal persecution, including imprisonment in the latter case.

Clive was acutely aware that in many countries, where they had less experience, or access to research, or legal resources, support from some kind of organised body could be useful. Chris Ford supported this and also emphasised the importance of effective rebuttal of bad science or media.

There was some discussion on the merits of less organised groups, for example in terms of civil disobedience. Clive made clear that the proposal was about creating an additional and essentially practical body, not to replace existing groups and organisations. The founding principles would be those identified in the e-mail that accompanied the discussion paper:

  • Recognition of the relative safety of new nicotine products and no disproportionate regulation on manufacture, distribution and use of these products
  • Taxation of products as consumer goods, with no tobacco duties applied
  • Restrictions on use to be justified and applied by owners and managers of premises, not through legislation

An organisation with a clear structure was required to access and influence key policy making meetings, which could be a coalition/confederation of existing bodies, or an umbrella organisation.

In terms of how best to effect change, Clive spoke of the power of individual stories and mass action, alongside more formal interventions to influence decision-making at all levels.

Clive introduced another short paper, which outlined the differences between the FCTC structures and procedures and other areas (such as climate change) that are far more inclusive. He also referenced the principles of the WHO Ottawa Charter (1986) which itself preceded the WHO’s general support for the principle of ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’, which applies in its engagement with other ‘affected populations’ – including people living with HIV and illicit drug users.

Following Clive’s presentation points made from the floor were:

  • who would make this happen?
  • the need for a clear statement of purpose (objectives and targets)
  • there was a general agreement that the voice of the consumer was important
  • how hard it was to be represented at FCTC and how easy it was to be excluded from the meetings
  • might seeking to engage be seen as support for the FCTC?

Jeannie Cameron has worked in the tobacco industry and also as an anti-tobacco advocate, having extensive experience of how the international organisations – specifically FCTC - work. She highlighted how the FCTC largely ignores human rights, but might also provide an avenue for influence through its commitment to harm reduction, as one of the key elements of tobacco control - Article 1 ‘(d) “tobacco control” means a range of supply, demand and harm reduction strategies that aim to improve the health of a population by eliminating or reducing their consumption of tobacco products and exposure to tobacco smoke; ’(The full treaty can be found at http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/42811/1/9241591013.pdf)

In Jeannie’s view a strategy to engage with FCTC to promote harm reduction would seem the best and most promising avenue to pursue. Issues about e-cigs and vaping would follow from this. All signatories to the FCTC should be implementing harm reduction approaches.

Jeannie also advised that lobbying national governments – all ministries that have an interest in nicotine and new products, including health, finance and trade and industry departments – prior to COP 7, in Delhi, is essential. Making relevant arguments, using available evidence, to pressure national delegations attending COP 7 to resist the prohibitionist agenda.

The agenda and other papers to be presented at COP 7 are available on-line http://www.who.int/fctc/cop/cop7/documentation/en/

In the discussion following Jeannie’s presentation it was emphasised that it is important to pursue lobbying at all levels, including national and international. The need to establish and cultivate relationships with media is also key to success in this.

Dr Chris Ford brought her considerable experience from the drugs world and promotion of harm reduction approaches to the debate. She expressed her pleasure at seeing so many passionate and compassionate individuals. In the UK much of this had recently been lost within the drugs field.

Her experience of the UN system was that you need to be prepared to be bored and amazed and often not in a good way. Picking up on an earlier reference she expressed the benefits of being involved both ‘inside and outside the tent’.

It was important to use evidence, but also to counter bad science and misleading media stories. In the drugs field there are numerous examples of the price paid by individuals when the evidence wasn’t followed, e.g. HIV rates amongst injecting drug users in Russia, whilst harm reduction measures were outlawed.

This sector should look to finds its voice, identify where small, incremental, gains were possible and look to build partnerships, especially with medical and health groups.

Before the open discussion both Clive and Jeannie spoke about the funding of anti–tobacco/tobacco control work, with major pharmaceutical companies have played a significant role and more recently the Rockefeller, Bloomberg, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had played a bigger role. In at least one jurisdiction anti vaping policy and legislation had been supported by a tobacco company.

In the general discussion the point was made that any development of a new organisation/network should build on the experience of existing local, national, regional and continental structures. With this in mind it is important to be clear about the role and functions of any new entity.

Some potential action points and offers of help and support were raised. It was evident that those present were not in favour of forming a fully constituted international organisation, with a formal constitution, at this stage, however this should remain on the agenda for future discussions.

Action Points

  • GFN will distribute the minutes of the meeting to those in attendance and also establish a mailing list, which can be added to, to communicate action on any of the ideas from the meeting.
  • Clive Bates and John Summers offered to develop a new electronic forum to act as a focus for consumer representatives from around the world to discuss and develop strategy for international campaigns and to also provide support to national and regional activity.
  • GFN will investigate the possibility of establishing a website for an International Nicotine Consumers’ Network, which might act as a place to post information and resources that inform and can be adapted for use by consumer organisations around the world. Such a site might also act a portal to their existing resources, so as to avoid ‘reinventing the wheel’.
  • David Dorn announced he had secured interest and support for a consumer presence around COP 7 in Delhi. Luc Van Daele committed EVUN to supporting this, believing it an important opportunity for consumers to increase ‘visibility’.
  • Paddy Costall announced the intention to hold an extended event for consumer advocates within the structure of GFN 2017. It would be an opportunity to look at what has and has not worked and how we can tackle some common problems.
  • A small group to be established to sift the ideas from the meeting, and also receive additional ones, to look at what might work and to consult with consumer representatives, with a view to reporting back to next year’s consumer meeting at GFN on what has been achieved and how future co-operation might be strengthened. One immediate task is to consider an overall strategy for engagement with COP 7 – pre-COP and on-site - taking into account the variety of views expressed during the meeting. The initial members who volunteered their services are Judy Gibson (UK) Nancy Sutthoff (New Zealand) Amelia Howard (Canada) Brian Carter (USA). Clive Bates has offered to help the group in developing a work plan and also expanding its membership to include representatives from regions not represented at the meeting. GFN will also provide assistance to the group.

The notes above are hopefully an accurate reflection of the discussions at the meeting and the actions proposed. If there are any additions you might have, please send them to Paddy Costall (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).


Attendance list

Given Name

Family Name

Country

Organisation

Attila

Danko

Australia

NNA Australia

Donna

Darvill

Australia

NNA Australia

Steve

Elsom

Australia

NNA Australia

Angela

Gordon

Australia

NNA Australia

Natisha

Sands

Australia

NNA Australia

Jenny

Stone

Australia

NNA Australia

Judith

Wolters

Australia

NNA Australia

Stefan

Wölflinger

Austria

Österreichischer DampferClub

Amelia

Howard

Canada

 

Robert

Innes

Canada

THRA of Canada

Kim

Petersen

Denmark

DADAFO

Peter

Stigaard

Denmark

DADAFO

Ingmar

Kurg

Estonia

Union of E-cigarette Sellers and Users Estonia

Juhani

Orelma

Finland

Vapers Finland RY

Claude

Bamberger

France

Aduice

Matthew

Cudlipp

France

 

Nathalie

Dunand

France

SOVAPE

Jacques

Le Houezec

France

SOVAPE

Luc

Van Daele

France

EVUN

Dave

Allan

Germany

 

Dac

Sprengel

Germany

VdeH

Muriël

Schipper

Netherlands

ACVODA

Martijn

Voncken

Netherlands

ACVODA

Nancy

Sutthoff

New Zealand

AVCA

Marc

Szeemann

Switzerland

Helvetic Vape

Olivier

Theraulaz

Switzerland

Helvetic Vape

Alan

Banks

UK

 

Paul

Barnes

UK

Facts Do Matter

Clive

Bates

UK

 

Alan

Beard

UK

NNA UK

Liam

Bryan

UK

Vapers in Power

Jeannie

Cameron

UK

 

Adam

Cleave

UK

 

Brian

Coe

UK

Vapers Stand United

Paddy

Costall

UK

KAC

David

Dorn

UK

NNA UK

Bernice

Evans

UK

Vapers in Power

Stuart

Fagg

UK

 

Chris

Ford

UK

IDHDP

George

Gay

UK

 

Judy

Gibson

UK

 

Ian

Green

UK

 

Jessica

Harding

UK

Vapers in Power

Jamie

Hollwood

UK

NNA UK

Sarah

Jakes

UK

NNA UK

Lorien

Jolleye

UK

NNA UK

David

MacKintosh

UK

LDAPF

Rhydian

Mann

UK

Vapers in Power

Kevin

Molloy

UK

KAC

Andy

Morrison

UK

NNA UK

Gerry

Stimson

UK

KAC

John

Summers

UK

 

Simon

Thurlow

UK

NNA UK

Brian

Carter

USA

CASAA

Will

Cohen

USA

Vape a Vet

Stefan

Didak

USA

Not Blowing Smoke

Julian

Morris

USA

Reason Foundation