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It is a special pleasure for me to be here today and to represent the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco in convening this meeting. It is an unusual conference. It is special because its main purpose is to explore the limits of available knowledge proactively, with no hidden agendas or government or industry initiatives.
The conference objectives are : (1) to continue to expand our perspectives on the treatment of tobacco addiction, and (2) to learn from our successes and failures, as well as from those of related fields. Over the next two days you will hear discussions on the latest information on alternative strategies to smoking cessation. Current approaches will be reviewed critically in terms of effectiveness, availability, acceptability, and cost-effectiveness. Alternative approaches will be reviewed from the perspective of harm reduction, and, I might point out as an aside, a comment in the tradition of Michael Russell who over a decade ago proposed the development of high nicotine cigarettes as a means of decreasing cigarette consumption.
You will hear today some new ideas on that subject, for example proposals such as restricting the nicotine availability in cigarettes to a level below the threshold for addiction as a means of dealing with this public health problem. This alternative will be evaluated, and the pros and cons of nicotine maintenance for smokers will also be considered. I would like to encourage you as a group to listen, to think, to question, and to prepare for action.
My next task is to introduce the moderator for the first section, Saul Shiffman. Dr Shiffman is professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, where he directs the Clinical Psychology Center and the Smoking Research Group. He received his PhD in clinical psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and his research examines addictive behaviour, with a particular focus on cigarette smoking and nicotine addiction.