Tobacco kills over a million people each year. More than seven million of these deaths are the direct result of tobacco use. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says some 80% of the world’s 1.1 billion smokers live in poor countries. We believe scientific information in the right hands at the time can help prevent this man-made public health disaster.
We are an eclectic group of people that includes medical doctors, scientists, researchers media, patients and laity looking for answers to one of the world’s most preventable causes of death and disease. Under the leadership of Professor Ricardo Polosa, the Catania Conversation (CC) seeks to enable dialogues on tobacco consumption and harm reduction, examine where global policy debates now stand and where genuine leadership exists.
Reducing harm caused by smoking is the scientific principle upon which CoEHAR is based. Alternative and less harmful tools and products to conventional cigarettes and cigarette smoke exist. These include electronic cigarettes, snus and heated products and they allow for a significant reduction of damage caused by smoking.
Professor Polosa is considered to be one of the most productive authors in the world in the field of applied research of e-cigarettes. Moreover, he is one of the pioneers to demonstrate the impact of the e-cig to quit smoking.
The CC is a multi-pronged international initiative to fill gaps in communication about Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR). We will engage with a global community of journalists, inno-vators, opinion leaders and lay people including smokers and non-smokers. Science is de-veloped and proved in laboratories. Its consumption is lived and felt by people.
Tobacco kills – that’s a no brainer. Blaming addiction (a complex process) and shaming smokers neither helps the public or their health. Is the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) a world standard when it was negotiated by health ministers (link FCTC), relevant today as science and technology provide new answers? Can solutions be limited to health ministries or do trade, agriculture and foreign ministries also have a role?
We believe media and public health are public goods. Based on advocacy blending science, engineering, ethics and policy CC will prime the best of science and common sense. The team will also review scientific articles and outcomes of clinical trials. We will also be speaking to scholars, doctors, practitioners and health professionals among others.
We will endeavour to centre-stage THR so that it enters the language of prevention. Simul-taneously, we understand the need to plough new territory in the media and health space for health reporting in general and tobacco control stories in particular.
With THR as our primary focus, our three leadership planks:
Enable clarity where none exists. There is no need for leadership when everything is defined according to a plan. In an ambiguous situation where information is either denied or de-fined, leadership matters.
Energy and enthusiasm are engines for leadership. The CC will work across sectors to break decades of indolent tobacco control policy addiction. Shine a light on unscientific diver-sions that provide no solutions
There will always be exogenous factors that resist change. The CC is not about blaming or shaming. It is shared responsibilities in public health. THR is here to stay and lead.