Public health experts from around the world have urged the World Health Organisation’s Executive Board to reject the Philip Morris International (PMI)-funded Foundation’s appeal to WHO to collaborate on tobacco control policies.
To do so would depart from WHO’s strict long-standing policy of not working with the tobacco industry, whose business practices have been proven to be contradictory with and detrimental to public health.
When public health experts were alerted to the approach, made in advertisements by the PMI Foundation for a Smoke-free World (FSFW), more than 279 organisations and individuals in 50 countries signed an open letter put forward by STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products), a tobacco industry watchdog.
The FSFW is funded entirely by PMI.
A key concern is that the FSFW helps operationalise PMI’s corporate affairs strategy to further the company’s business interests.
While PMI and its grantee claim a commitment to reducing harm, reports show that PMI’s products, including heated tobacco products, continue to be heavily marketed in ways that attract children and undermine public health policy.
“PMI has a long and well-documented history of using third parties to infiltrate health policy-making,” said Anna Gilmore, professor of public health at the University of Bath and research lead for STOP.
“No public health gain has ever been achieved by working with the tobacco industry so this latest approach by a PMI-funded entity must be rejected. Support to express outrage against the PMI-funded FSFW continues to pour in.”
Signatories to the STOP letter note that engaging with FSFW would present a direct threat to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a global treaty that guides the implementation of evidence-based policies that reduce tobacco use.
Collaborating with FSFW also would contradict WHO’s own warning about FSFW and best-practice policies the UN endorsed to protect its policies from tobacco industry interference.
According to WHO, an estimated 7 million people die from tobacco-related causes every year.
About Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP)
STOP is a global tobacco industry watchdog whose mission is to expose tobacco industry strategies and tactics to undermine public health.
STOP is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and comprised of a partnership between The Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, The Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control, The Union’s Department of Tobacco Control and Vital Strategies.