CLOSING KEYNOTE: Covid-19 and tobacco harm reduction: are there lessons from the pandemic for the way ahead?

Time: 16:05 - 16:20

Date: Wednesday 8th December 2021

At various points since early 2020 it has become apparent that there are similarities between some of the challenges faced in tobacco harm reduction research and policy and those we’ve encountered during the Covid-19 pandemic. Both involve using complex and often conflicting sources of data and evidence to inform public health interventions. Both have particular effects on disadvantaged and marginalised groups. Each elicits strong opinions about personal autonomy, collective responsibility and the role of the state in public health. How individuals respond has been shaped by social norms and heavily influenced by the role of the media.  Levels of trust in government and in national and international public health organisations have influenced behaviour and the regulatory context. For both tobacco harm reduction and Covid-19, there have been vigorous and often heated debates between groups of scientists, and vested interests have sought to influence those debates. Attempts at consensus have had mixed success. This closing plenary will reflect on these similarities and differences from the perspective of a researcher who has worked with public health agencies, the media and governments on both issues. Are there any key lessons we can take from the pandemic for tobacco harm reduction now and in the future?


  • Prof Linda Bauld, OBE Bruce and John Usher Chair in Public Health in the Usher Institute - College of Medicine, University of Edinburgh

« Back