And the 2018 winners are...

All conference participants, who completed the on-line feedback form after the 2018 event, took part in a draw of two free places for the GFN 2019. The two lucky winners of the draw this year are Carrie, from the US, and Tomas from Mexico.

Carrie and Tomas kindly agreed to answer a couple of questions about themselves and their professional interests.


GFN: Please tell us a bit about yourself. What is your area of work?

Carrie: I'm the director of harm reduction policy at the R Street Institute in Washington DC. Our program areas include THR, opioid harm reduction and sexual health. All forms of harm reduction have unique aspects, but our focus is to decrease the barriers to health by advocating for harm reduction to be broadly applied to public health strategies.

GFN: How did you hear about GFN? What made you decide to attend GFN 2018 and I hope next year?

Carrie: GFN was suggested to me after I started at my current position as a well-rounded tobacco harm reduction conference. The major draw for me is the focus on both science and policy. 
GFN: How did you get interested in nicotine harm reduction, new nicotine products, or related topics? What is your area of particular interest?
Carrie: I became interested in harm reduction during my time at Johns Hopkins and working at a harm reduction organization in Baltimore focusing on overdose education and naloxone distribution. It makes sense to apply the same principles of OHR to THR to reduce health disparities.
GFN: Do you have some personal ideas, remarks about next GFN?
Carrie: I'd like to see some new voices added to the mix.

GFN: Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, and we're looking forward to seeing you at GFN 2019 in Warsaw!


GFN: Please tell us a bit about yourself. What is your area of work?

Tomas: I'm from Mexico and my area of work is law, my practice is related to real estate, agreements and corporate law. I also teach corporations law and successions law at Universidad Panamericana here in Mexico City.

GFN: How did you get interested in nicotine harm reduction, new nicotine products, or related topics? What is your area of particular interest?

Tomas: In august 2016 I quit smoking thanks to vaping after a 27 years habit. I was amazed how easy it was for me (never thought I was going to quit smoking) , so I got really interested in vaping.

E-cigarettes commercialization is banned in my country and their use is not regulated (so vaping is legal but selling is not). As in almost everywhere else, Mexican media was (and still is) printing articles and anti-vaping news, our local health authorities also were (and still are) opposed to vaping. Also, as you know, 2016 was a bad year for us consumers as TPD went into effect in Europe (as I understand TPD had to be incorporated into countries laws that year) and in USA the FDA's Deeming Rule went into effect.

In December 2017, Roberto Sussman, myself and another person founded Pro-Vapeo Mexico, A.C. which is a consumer association advocating for tobacco harm reduction (primarily vaping) and our association became a member of INNCO. Since then we have been trying to give proper THR info to the public by means of our website and FB fanpage, we also participated in a THR small forum organized by a Mexican legislator (diputado) in March 2018. We have been gaining some presence and we were able to be interviewed on some occasions by journalists but still facing a very strong anti-vaping propaganda. Our current efforts have been trying to get in touch with legislators (but our recent government change has slowed our approach possibilities).

So, in conclusion, I've been trying to advocate for THR as my work and family allow me. Just trying to help here.

Oh, by the way, I also helped INNCO in Geneva during the COP. Amazing experience but INNCO effort was somewhat frustrated as we were rejected as observers by WHO-COP.

GFN: How did you hear about GFN? What made you decide to attend GFN 2018 and I hope next year?
Tomas: Regarding GFN, Roberto Sussman was able to attend it in 2017 and in 2018 presented a poster, I got some help from INNCO to also be there as we were going to also participate in INNCO's 2018 assembly. So I attended last year's GFN as a consumer and co-founder of Pro-Vapeo Mexico.
GFN:  Do you have some comments or ideas about the next GFN?
Tomas: My first concern is about nicotine. It is urgent to end with all the misconceptions and prejudices regarding nicotine consumption. Also, I guess the international THR community must concentrate its efforts in the so-called "youth epidemic" as it is being used as a moral panic to over regulate non-combustible products and to destroy their effectiveness and appeal. I'm really worried about the tobacco controllers tendency and efforts to allow THR just as quasi-medical products thus destroying all the aspects that have made vaping so successful for us, smokers, to quit.

On June 17, 2019, we will open a feedback form for the #GFN19 conference, and from among those who provide us with feedback, we will draw two new winners who will get free passes for the 2020 GFN.

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  • This fee applies to Polish delegates, living and/or working in Poland and to private individuals resident and working in middle and low-income countries (please see World Bank classifications for details). It also applies to consumers (eg vapers and snus users) who are not employed by, or representing manufacturers, vendors or trade associations, and to those who are unwaged, including students in full-time education.
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