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Industry sponsored harm reduction conference courts Indigenous peoples in Canada
  1. Sheryl Thompson1,
  2. Julia Smith1,
  3. Kelley Lee1,
  4. Stevie Thompson2
  1. 1 Health Sciences, SFU, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2 Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies, SFU, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Ms Sheryl Thompson, Health Sciences, SFU, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada; sherylt{at}

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In November 2019, Jeff Gaulin, Director External Affairs with Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc (RBH) opened a conference in Calgary, Canada. RBH was not listed on any of the promotional material or the registration platform but Gaulin announced he was one of the driving forces behind the event and he asked the audience of Indigenous health professionals and advocates, “So why is the world’s largest maker of cigarettes assembling a harm reduction conference?”.1 It’s a good question.

RBH’s audience was an impressive list of leading Indigenous scholars and public health professionals attending a Harm Reduction Forum at the Grey Eagle Resort and Casino to discuss supporting people impacted by addiction. In his opening remarks, Gaulin claimed that RBH was ‘transforming’, seeking an ‘unsmoked Canada’. He set cessation as the goal and listed the benefits and relative safety of vape products as smoke-free alternative technologies to smoking.

As Cree-Metis scholars and settler allies, who have studied the tobacco industry and commercial tobacco use in Indigenous communities, we have deep concerns …

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  • Twitter @Sheryl_T2, @juliaheather, @profplum8

  • Contributors Conceptualisation—ST, JS, StT; Writing—original draft—ST; Writing—review and editing—ST, JS, KL and StT. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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