New Study Finds Safer-Nicotine Consumer Groups Are Often Underfunded

The 52 identified active consumer groups around the world that advocate for safer nicotine products (SNPs) such as vapes and snus, are often led by volunteers, and receive no funding. Yet they are still successful, reports the new study. 

Led by the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction (GSTHR), a project of the UK-based organization Knowledge-Action-Change (KAC), the study found that 31 of the 52 consumer groups had not received any funding. While the combined global funding for the ones which did was around $310,000 in the last full year.
Discussing these findings, Filter had highlighted that this is a “telling revelation” given that such groups are often accused of being affiliated with tobacco companies. It also represents a drastic difference from the amount of money spent by certain anti-THR entities such Bloomberg Philanthropies run by billionaire and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. In 2019 Bloomberg Philanthropies announced that it would fork out $160 million over three years in order to fight flavoured vapes so as to “protect kids” in the US.

Most of the people working for these groups are on volunteer basis
Meanwhile the GSTHR report found that most of the people working for the SNP consumer groups do so on a volunteer basis. In fact, of the 52 active groups mentioned in the paper, (of which 24 are in Europe, 13 in Latin America, eight in Africa, five in the Asia-Pacific region, and two in North America), only seven were found to have any contracted and paid employees. While only 13 people globally, held a paid position at one of these groups, and the rest of the workforce were volunteers, most of which had managed to quit smoking via SNPs.

The lead author of the study Tomasz Jerzyński, from the Robert Zajonc Institute for Social Studies at the University of Warsaw, Poland, highlighted the challenges that the groups face. “This survey offered a unique opportunity to map these advocacy organizations for the first time and provide valuable insight into how they are operating all over the world,” he said. “The sustainability of these organizations is one of the main concerns that has come out of the data. All of these groups face challenges due to their small numbers of core workers and their dependence on volunteers.”

The study also revealed that many of the named organizations were members of four regional umbrella organizations covering Latin America (ARDT Iberoamerica), Africa (CASA), Europe (ETHRA), and Asia-Pacific (CAPHRA).

The SNPs advocated for are used by approximately 112 million people globally
The SNPs advocated by these groups included nicotine vaping products (e-cigarettes), Swedish-style snus, nicotine pouches and heated tobacco products. “Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction estimates show that these harm reduction options are now being used by an estimated 112 million people worldwide. Many SNP consumers may be unaware of the political, policy, and regulatory issues surrounding these products, despite bans or restrictions in many countries, but the last 15 years has seen the emergence of small grassroots advocacy organizations, set up and run by nicotine consumers, with most (36) only being established since 2016,” read a media release.

Meanwhile, the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction 2022: The Right Side of History report launched last year, documented the search for safer ways to use nicotine, and charts the history of tobacco harm reduction. The report considered ways in which tobacco harm reduction strategies can speed up the process of ending smoke-related morbidity and mortality. The Right Side of History went on to explain how the past two decades have witnessed a substantial disruption to patterns of tobacco use, public health narratives, the work of tobacco control institutions, and traditional tobacco industry interests, due to the emergence of science-backed safer nicotine products, such as vapes and snus.