The Rest of the Story
While this conference might sound good on paper, the rest of the story is that the conference's major sponsors were four large pharmaceutical companies that market smoking cessation products.
The sponsors were:
- GlaxoSmithKline (which markets Wellbutrin and Zyban, Commit lozenges, Committed Quitters, NiQuitin CQ/Nicoderm, CQ/Nicabate, and Nicorette);
- McNeil Products Ltd (which markets Nicorette products);
- Novartis (which markets Nicotinell and Habitrol);
- Pfizer (which markets Chantix, Nicotrol NS, and Nicotrol Inhaler).
If you look at the topics discussed at the conference, you'll note that the entire focus is not on policies to promote smoking cessation, but instead is on ...
... you guessed it ...
... pharmaceutical treatment of nicotine dependence.
This is not a scientific conference at all. It is basically a huge marketing and public relations opportunity for the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture or market smoking cessation products.
Given the extent of the sponsorship -- of both individual sessions and the entire conference -- by Big Pharma, there is simply no way that this conference could have offered a scientifically objective and appropriate treatment of policy issues related to promoting and enhancing smoking cessation.
Even in the one session that acknowledged the role of spontaneous, unplanned, abrupt quit attempts, the emphasis was not on how this argues against a purely pharmaceutical-based model of smoking cessation promotion. Instead, the entire emphasis of the presentation was on how to increase pharmaceutical profits by figuring out a way to get abrupt quitters to use pharmaceutical aids.
By prostituting itself and allowing Big Pharma to essentially co-opt the entire conference, the UK National Smoking Cessation Conference has given up its role as a scientific conference and has instead essentially turned itself into a huge marketing opportunity for the pharmaceutical companies.