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After yesterday`s heated discussion regarding the Tobacco Industry`s attendance at the conference the Executive Committee had an extra meeting and announced before the start of the plenary session "ìnfluence of the Tobacco Industry`" that they were not welcome and invited anyone who was in the pay of the Tobacco Industry to leave.
There then followed session on what tobacco control should focus on to counter the continued growth and profitability of the global tobacco industry. Obviously I will not go into detail here as the Tobacco Industry might read it!
During a discussion after some presentations at the parallel session on Future of Tobacco Control in Europe, it was pointed out that tobacco industry (TI) representatives disguise themselves at meetings. The Chair invited TI reps in the audience to identify themselves, whereby four raised their hands.
Its a bit unfortunate that I do alot of talks on Swedish snus. In the presentations I have to distinguish between snus portion-packed in little tea-bags and "loose" (like ground coffee). With my Scottish accent the words loose snus seems to provoke laughter from the audience even though Im trying to be serious. Oh well. Todays session on snus/harm reduction was well attended but didnt produce the usual fireworks elicited by this topic.
At todays session on "The future of Smoking Cessation" (chaired by Jaques Cornuz) there was a fascinating presentation of new data from a Swiss trial of a new nicotine vaccine. The results were consistent with the few previous vaccine trials in demonstrating a significant effect of the vaccine in helping smokers quit (versus placebo vaccine). However, the effect was no better than existing medicines (eg NRT).
The Smoke Free Class Competition is a school-based smoking prevention campaign targeted at 11-14 year olds. Part funded by EU it operates in 19+ countries. The essential idea is that classes that remain non-smoking for 6 months can claim prizes (often travel vouchers). The session split the audience into those enthusiastic (passionate) to continue and others who doubted the efficacy of the initiative (even suggesting that peer pressure may result in bullying)
For those who have not been to conferences before I should explain that not only do many start early and continue all day but in addition there are often extra sessions organised in the early evening. I am always surprised that so many people are still eager for more. Basel is no exception.
One of the highlights of some conferences is the surprising poster that in a few seconds gives you an insight into a topic or intervention that you would not have sat through a session to receive. Unfortunately the poster session in Basel is a little disappointing. Not only are the posters displayed away from the main areas (you have to make an effort to see them but there are so many gaps (presumably people who got their poster approved but who did not turn up)
Smoking in Norwegian Movies: Trends in Frequency 1945-2004 - Saebo of Norway presented his preliminary findings on smoking scenes from 196 Norwegian movies (69% of the final sample). Especially interesting were early findings from a comparison of smoking in films versus the real world, where prevalence of smoking in the film world was higher than “real life” between 1955 to 1975, but was lower from 1975 onwards.
The interesting session on Health Promotion was chaired by ECL member Dutch Cancer Society's Stefan Wigger. I had joined the session late, but was just in time for the presentation by Cancer Research UK's marketing Manager, A. Brown, who gave example of ads as part of her presentation on "Smoke is Poison - advertising to raise awareness of toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke" .
The ads are interviews with people who work with hazardous chemicals, and show the natural surprised reactions of the workers when they are told that those same dangerous chemicals are found in cigarette smoke. Re the ad on "Formaldehyde Video Ad", the speaker said the funeral manager, a heavy smoker, was genuinely shocked and proceeded to quit after the video was made.
For many folks in tobacco control, October is an exceptionally busy month. I was just at the annual meeting of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) in Madrid last week, popped back to New Jersey for a few days and have just arrived in Basel (via Zurich) for the 4th European Conference on Tobacco or Health. Then later in the month its the US National Conference on Tobacco or Health. Anyone ever think of spacing these things out?
Pascal Diethelm aks all the conference participants to sign the petition to protest the sponsorship of the Basel International Tennis Tournament by Davidoff and ask Roger Federer not to let use his picture in connexion with Davidoff: while he is a Unicef Ambassador, the Davidoff brand is used by Imperial Tobacco to promote smoking in many countries, especially less privileged ones. LISTEN to Pascal (7 min) En Français (8 min)
Several presentations relating to `hard to reach`communities. Clearly a problem in virtually all countries. A lack of evidence on this subject reminded me that we (those implementing tobacco control policies etc) often carry out intiatives but don`t get round to writing them up for others to learn from or to build the evidence base.
Luc Joossens announced the results of the revised Tobacco Scale (where each European country is assessed and scored against various tobacco control measures such as price, smoke free laws etc)
Even though we knew the result had to be good for the UK as Luc progressed through all the countries giving a sentence or two summary for each (Austria 30th out of 30) I could not help but feel the tension mounting.
Over breakfast I had already met with colleague Andrea Crossfield where, although we meet regularly in our own country, we finally got together to discuss how we can make the most of a new EU funded project.
Having not visited another coutry without comprehensive smoke free law since 1st July I was wondering when I would get my first whiff of indoor air pollution. As it happens my wife and I were able to travel from Birmingham to Zurich and then onto the hotel in Basel (using the ruthlessly efficient Swiss transport system) all in relatively clean air.
I work as Smoke Free Birmingham Programme Manager
co-funded by the Department of Health and local health care trusts. I
have been involved in tobacco control in England since 2005 and together with colleagues worked
to achieve a comprehensive Smoke Free Law. The new law was introduced this
summer. The Smoke Free Birmingham Coalition is concerned that smoking has
become a disease of the most disadvantaged and continues its activity to target
key policies, plans and funding to reduce tobacco use and smoking prevalence
especially in the most deprived parts of the city.
As the Director for the Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL), one of this 4th ECToH’s organisers, I look forward to contributing online here. For those of you not familiar with us, ECL is an alliance of national and local cancer leagues across Europe, which connects the efforts of cancer leagues throughout Europe and works toward influencing EU and pan-European policies. Tobacco control is one of ECL’s main and long-standing priority areas.
My interest in tobacco control started umpteenth years ago with my doctoral research at Hopkins exploring how websites were being used for tobacco control. One of my current non-day jobs is researching on how the web can improve as a tobacco control tool for youth, and developing web-based educational content for children and youth.
Since ECL is a permanent co-organiser of European ToH conferences, we would welcome advice from seasoned conference attendees and feedback from those attending this ECToH on how future conferences might be improved to further your work.
I have been involved in tobacco control in England since 1985 so it was with particular pleasure I witnessed the introduction of the Smoke Free Law this summer.
As Regional Tobacco Policy Manager for the Department of Health in the West Midlands and a member of the Tobacco Control Centre team I have an interest in all aspects of the conference. However, I shall be spending much of my time looking for ways to enhance our future programmes and to make the most of the progress we have made so far.
Through the blog I hope to provide honest feedback especially for those unable to attend in person.
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To become a co-author, please email me so I can register you and email you the information so you can access the blog. It is as simple as emailing and don't hesitate to contact me if you have any problem.
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