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GFN 2023 - The Next Decade



GFN2023 was held in Warsaw with the tagline – the next decade. Hence the theme of the event was ‘What have we learnt over the last decade and what those learnings may mean with respect to the next 10 years’.

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Multiple industry stakeholders were in attendance including manufacturers, academics, advocates, CROs and the investment community. This led to wide and varied debate. However, there was consensus on the fact that the next-generation product industry (NGPs) is at a crossroads regarding its future due to poor public perception (driven by sustainability issues, youth use of disposables and issues with non-compliant products) and ignorance as to the benefits of reduced risk products. It was against this backdrop that the event attendees tried to find a path forward.

Day 1 workshops included one titled ‘Medicinal licencing of vaping products and the potential implications for public health’. The panel included Brian Quigley, CEO of Qnovia, who are following this regulatory pathway for their stepdown nicotine delivery device in both the US and UK. Brian made the point that applying science and technology to design products aligned with your chosen regulatory pathway right at the beginning of such a project is vital. There was also discussion during the workshop that some smokers take offence to being referred to as patients. However, as Brian said it is about consumer choice and for smokers who are wanting to achieve cessation (quitting) an approved product designed to help them do just this will be a game changer.

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Another hot topic at the event was sustainability and how the industry can work together to overcome challenges associated with topics such as disposable products, battery recycling and product material selection. Jeannie Cameron, CEO of JCIC International Consultancy Limited suggested that one solution could be a change in EU regulations (TPD and UK TRPR) related to tank sizes (currently a maximum of 2ml). By increasing tank capacity, this would extend product life and increase unit prices of disposable vapes which could also have the knock-on effect of making such products less attractive to youth. Food for thought.

Running alongside GFN2023 was the ISoNTech event hosted by Charlie Hamshaw Thomas. Charlie argued that the future of the $60bn NGP product industry will be driven by technology and that we should all be working to shift the dialogue to how science and technology advancements will make these products more acceptable to the public and users. Large corporates including Altria, JTI, PMI and Swedish Match showcased their latest product advances with a strong focus on the fast-growing pouch category.

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So, what were my conclusions from the event? It is clear that the NGP industry has an image problem. It is also clear that it suffers from a wide disparity of attitudes and varied regulations in individual countries and, of course, the legacy issue of a lack of trust in the tobacco industry. However, if the industry can get its act together and communicate its harm reduction message more effectively over the next decade there is no doubt that these products, scientifically proven to be safer than combustibles, can and will help enhance and save the lives of the millions of smokers globally.

The Broughton team will be working with the industry to make this happen. To find out how Broughton can help in this area click here