Some 100 representatives, plus media, from more than 15 countries including Australia, USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand, Greece, Poland, Japan and various Asian countries attended this important conference to discuss Tobacco Harm Reduction.
I was greatful to have been invited, representing the consumer element of THR advocacy in Australia. Whilst I was not a speaker this time (that was primarily left up to those professionals from medicine, science and the political arena), I took the opportunity to engage with numerous individuals and groups.
Attending these event types is a huge advantage to those involved in advocacy. It’s an opportunity to gauge both success and failures with regard to the level of endorsement that government, regulators and various medical representatives adhere to – Obviously, Australia is a stand out as it’s regulatory measures are perhaps the most stringent and draconian in the western world.
The group-organisations I was travelling with was the same as with the Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) in Warsaw in 2018. However, some new faces brought additional value to the group, and perhaps one of my most fond memories was the time I, along with the group, spent with Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos. He needs little introduction and is both admired and respected by all.
Being part of conferences such as this is also a viable means of networking, and if one is stretching one’s budget in order to attend, it’s well worth begging, borrowing or even raiding the piggy bank.
Some observations from Seoul and its culture..
I took a stroll around the city block from the hotel and was surprised to see 9 coffee shops, including a Starbucks (yes, if you count that, many don’t).
The Korean BBQ joints are to die for.
The level of respect that the locals show is indeed honourable. Not a day went by without having at least a dozen people bow to me. I didn’t always reciprocate, as I was ignorant as to how to respond.
Oh, lastly, the internet is far superior (and faster) than in Australia. That wouldn’t be hard.