An international conference organized by Knowledge.Action.Change (K.A.C) and the Health Research Union (HRU) was held on May 23 in Radisson Blu Iveria. The main theme of the conference was “Tobacco Harm Reduction: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century.”
For decades, the damage caused by tobacco use has united public health and tobacco control experts around one common goal: to end the tobacco pandemic.
In order to accelerate the process of reducing tobacco harm, the number of health care institutions and health experts around the world is increasing daily, changing their agendas and discussing science-based solutions in the focus of discussion, because they believe that only science has the ability to bring about positive change and accelerate progress.
That is why this international conference had one main goal: to promote a dialogue based on scientific facts and a detailed analysis of international approaches, and to inform the audience about the recent international achievements of the tobacco harm reduction strategy and its capabilities to integrate them into our lifestyles and effective public health system.
The conference consisted of two panels, which discussed the following topics:
• The concept of harm reduction and human rights;
• Harm reduction strategy practice in Georgia;
• Tobacco harm reduction – International experience and opportunity for public health;
• Scientific foundations of tobacco harm reduction;
• Proportional risk reduction based on harm reduction and scientific evidence;
• A brief overview of tobacco control legislation in Georgia;
• Harm reduction strategy and Georgia tobacco control strategy;
• How can we accelerate the progress of tobacco harm reduction in Georgia? – A prohibitive legislative framework or a readiness for a progressive agenda?
“I think it is very important to have such discussions and exchange views on such an important issue as reducing the harm of tobacco,” said Health and Social Policy Expert, George (Gigi) Tsereteli. “In my report, I discussed this topic on the example of Georgia and tried to talk about all of it thoroughly. In our daily lives, our goal is to minimize any kind of harm. I recall that an active discussion started in 2000-2004, when we got the first legislative note, which started to prepare the ground for substitution therapy in the country. At first there were a number of questions about this, however, after analyzing the issue, we realized how necessary it was. It is noteworthy that the non-governmental sector was also involved in this process, as it is in other countries. A clear example of this is Portugal, which clearly shows how to properly plan harm reduction programs.”
By Mariam Mtivlishvili