SciCom & Partners’ Successful Scientific Session Proposals, ESOF 2018 Toulouse, 9 – 14 July.


Smoking remains the major preventable cause of death in the 21st century, killing 6 - 7 million people annually or 13 times the population of Toulouse! At least 1.5 billion people smoke and this will kill two-thirds of them. As richer countries kick the habit with usage rates plummeting, poorer countries continue to take it up. For the first time, a real possibility exists for this ‘institutionalised manslaughter’ to end, and rapidly: next generation nicotine products.

Not since the Internet has society seen a comparative disruptive technology with the capacity to so fundamentally impact lives. According to Public Health England, e-cigarettes are 95% safer than classic cigarettes. According to NIH, smoking kills. Vaping they are not yet sure about. According to Action on Smoking & Health (ASH), there is no magic bullet but there is mounting evidence of these innovations’ positive role in supporting switching, supporting quitting and discouraging relapse i.e. increasing total cessation.

While the jury is out, the global regulatory picture from acceptance to partial and total bans is a mess. While experts for and against mount onslaughts at the WHO, FDA and EU, evidence-based science is taking a back seat. The voice of the smoker/vaper is also weak, despite our much touted ‘patient-first’ health systems.

This session unites leading EU-US-Africa medical, industry and civil society experts to explore the latest data for and against. A strong focus is separating scientific fact from fiction, now made possible by unprecedented advances in information gathering, toxicological risk evaluation, medical imaging and analysis. A common aim is advocating greater empathy and challenging the way societies view nicotine and those that use it. The ‘so what?’ will be guiding policy-makers with the help of the scientific community beyond moralistic dogmas so as to better communicate evidence to end users where it matters most – those that live or die on such decisions.

Relevance of the selected approaches:

ESOF 2018 cannot, in our minds, tackle only valid high-brow science such as frontier research, graphene etc. to the exclusion of pressing public issues. We believe that science is relevant to politics, policy and power because it is based on evidence and gets it right most of the time. This concrete public health case-study impacts millions in Europe and abroad, going to the heart of the nexus between risk and safety assessment, ethical issues and inequalities in our societies. With its cauldron of competing interests, knowledge about next generation nicotine technologies is ever more complex, contingent and contested. This session will appeal to all ESOF 2018 delegates and Science in the City participants.

Co-organised by Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health Sciences & SciCom – Making Sense of Science.