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The Fondation Brocher is an essential player in this vital thinking process: one which will help make us aware of the real challenges in using our resources for maximum impact on the health of the people of the world.



Professor Daniel Wikler, Harvard University


The Brocher Foundation is a Swiss non-profit private foundation  recognized of public interest. Your donations are tax deductible according to the regulations in force.


May 28 - June 1, 2018

2018 Brocher Summer Academy in Population-level Bioethics



The biennial Summer Academy in the Ethics of Global Population Health is hosted by the Brocher Foundation on the shores of Lake Geneva, introducing faculty, officials, and advanced graduate students to population-level bioethics. This fast-developing academic field addresses ethical questions in population and global health.

Ethics and nicotine: moral dimensions of harm reduction within tobacco control


Schedule: From Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 5 pm

Place: Brocher Foundation, Hermance, Switzerland

Confirmed speakers:

  • David Abrams, New York University
  • Dorie Apollonio, University of California San Francisco
  • Neal Benowitz, University of California San Francisco
  • David Estlund, Brown University
  • Jean-Francois Etter, University of Geneva
  • Nir Eyal, Harvard University
  • Daniel Giovenco, Columbia University
  • Kalle Grill, Umeå University
  • Wayne Hall, University of Queensland
  • Dorothy Hatsukami, University of Minnesota
  • Yogi Hendlin, University of California San Francisco
  • Samia Hurst, University of Geneva
  • Martin Jarvis, University College London
  • Lynn Kozlowski, State University of New York at Buffalo
  • Tessa Langley, University of Nottingham
  • Monica Magalhaes, Harvard University
  • Stephanie Morain, Baylor College of Medicine
  • Véronique Munoz-Dardé, University College London
  • Michael Otsuka, London School of Economics
  • Vaughan Rees, Harvard University
  • Laura Rosen, Tel Aviv University
  • Andreas Schmidt, University of Groningen
  • Steven Schroeder, University of California San Francisco
  • Susanne Uusitalo, University of Turku
  • Daniel Wikler, Harvard University

Smoking has long ranked first among preventable risk factors for premature mortality worldwide. Since the start of the 21st century, rates of cigarette smoking have declined in developed countries, the WHO has adopted its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), and a growing number of developing countries are adopting anti-smoking measures. These encouraging developments were made possible by a unified tobacco control field, in which scientists, activists and officials have worked together towards the common goal of eliminating tobacco smoking. However, even accounting for these recent achievements, WHO estimates that smoking will kill one billion people before the end of this century if current trends persist, a staggering global health toll.

More recently, the tobacco control field has become deeply divided over the question of how to respond to the advent of e-cigarettes, vaporizers and other non-combustible nicotine products. These products have the potential to help smokers who cannot or will not quit tobacco, by delivering nicotine without the toxic constituents of tobacco smoke. However, health risks from long-term use of these products (such as cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases) are unknown and may be serious. The same may be true for “second-hand” vapor inhaled by others. Moreover, non-smokers enticed by these products may become nicotine addicts who  may go on to smoke. The tobacco control field has split over how these products ought to be regulated. This dilution of tobacco control’s single-mindedness potentially threatens the field’s effectiveness against the disease burden caused by tobacco, jeopardizing much-needed future progress.

Though most of the debate focuses on empirical matters, such as different estimates of the toxicity of these products and of their likely effects on smoking habits, the two sides also disagree on what weight should be assigned to some of these estimates in devising public health regulatory policy. Further ethical disagreements in this debate may include the relative priority of protection for non-smokers from tobacco (“prevention”) vs. that of helping those who do smoke to reduce their health risks (“treatment”); weighing benefits to current smokers against those of potential future smokers; discounting the relative importance of future lives saved in relation to present lives; factoring in the moral importance, if any, to be attached to personal responsibility of the smoker for the decision to initiate and continue smoking; and judging how much weight should be given to sheer numbers of lives saved in deciding how to respect other basic ethical concerns of public health.

At the 2018 Brocher Summer Academy in the Ethics of Global Population Health, key global experts in ethics, tobacco control and other academic fields of relevance to this issue will lecture and lead discussions with talented scholars and practitioners for five full days. Our aim is to identify relevant ethical disagreements, address them explicitly and attempt to resolve them through evidence and ethical reasoning, and thereby make a contribution to restoring unity in this important area of global population health.

Our tradition has been to follow the close of the conference with several days in the Swiss Alps, hiking from one mountain hut to another. Though the routes are challenging, some of the most fruitful discussions have taken place on the trail. General fitness is required, but no technical expertise. If you might be interested in joining the hike, please let us know in your response and in several months we will send you an email with details on our route.

Target audience: 40 scholars (faculty, post-doctoral fellows and advanced graduate students) in philosophy, public health, economics and other social sciences, the biomedical sciences, and global health, and practitioners and professionals in public health and global health, selected from applications.

The event is funded exclusively by the Brocher Foundation, which accepts no funds from the tobacco industry or from any organizations supported by it. The organizers have no financial or other conflict of interests in relation to this event and have never accepted money or other valuable benefits from the tobacco industry or from any organizations supported by it. Participants are invited as individuals, not as representatives of organizations, and an invitation to participate constitutes no endorsement of an individual’s affiliate organizations.