UPDATE 15th August 2018

Following our intervention Pfizer have amended their CGA and, whilst it’s not perfect, it is a big improvement.  The revised CGA is here.  


Open letter sent from NNA to Pfizer in response to Pfizer's Call for Grant Applications (CGA) on Addressing Education Related to Smoking Cessation and Tobacco Harm Reduction

18 July 2018

Dear Ms Romano,

I note that in the detailed notes for this CGA Pfizer state:

“The concept of harm reduction has emerged as a strategy to reduce the consumption of tobacco cigarettes”

Then go on to say:

“The health benefits of harm reduction alone have not been clearly established”


This is not a definition of the concept which anyone involved in harm reduction would recognise as being wholly valid. You appear to be defining tobacco harm reduction solely as a method by which people can reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke and thereby reduce exposure to toxins. I would agree that the reduction in risk in so doing is not necessarily proportionally equivalent to the reduction in exposure, however this is not a complete description of the concept of harm reduction.

Harm reduction also includes achieving complete tobacco smoking abstinence by switching to reduced harm products; indeed this is the approach to harm reduction favoured by Public Health England and included in the U.K. Government’s Tobacco Control Plan. There is decades of evidence surrounding the relative safety of Swedish snus compared with smoking, and in respect of e-cigarettes, the UK Royal College of Physicians has reviewed the evidence and concluded that the risks are “unlikely to exceed 5% of those associated with smoked tobacco products and may well be substantially lower than this figure”.

Additionally, this appears in the body of the document:

“..the importance of complete smoking abstinence vs harm reduction strategies for motivated quitters”

This implies that complete smoking abstinence and harm reduction are mutually exclusive and compete with one another, which simply is not true.

Despite the fact that the CGA states that “Pfizer has no influence over any aspect of the projects.."  it is quite clear that Pfizer is attempting to influence the projects before they even start by providing such a misleading description of the subject matter to be researched.

I will be publishing this email as an open letter on our website so that any projects which emerge from this CGA can be viewed in the context of Pfizer’s input.

I welcome your comments.

Kind regards

Sarah Jakes
New Nicotine Alliance (UK)

Charity registration number 1160481