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January 29, 2019

Over 100 Organizations from 50 Countries Denounce Attempt to Infiltrate WHO Policy Making By Philip Morris International-funded Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

(Geneva, Switzerland) – Public health experts from around the world today urged the World Health Organization’s Executive Board (WHO EB) 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 organizations 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 operationalize 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 STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products) 

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 ControlThe Union’s Department of Tobacco Control and Vital Strategies 

For more information or to speak to a STOP spokesperson, please contact: 

Global and North America: Jorge Alday

Africa:  Luyanda Majija   

Central America, South America and Mexico:  Benjamin Gonzalez Rubio

Europe and Middle East: Tracey Johnston

Southeast Asia:  Aanchal Mehta  

Brazil:  Luiza Amorim 

China:  Winnie Chen 

India:  Vaishakhi Mallik

Notes to editors:

Text of the letter sent to the WHO EB, including list of signatory organizations 

 28th January 2019:

To the Director General and Executive Board of the World Health Organization,

We write to you, as members of the global public health community, to express our grave concern at the attempt by the Philip Morris International-funded entity, Foundation for
a Smoke Free World (FSFW), to pave the road for partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO).

Giving any consideration to an organization that is entirely funded by the tobacco industry would fundamentally undermine the significant health and policy gains made to date on the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and prevention of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) through the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). It would specifically undermine WHO FCTC Article 5.3 which seeks to protect public health policies from the vested interests of the tobacco industry and on which much of the success of the treaty rests.

We therefore call on you to reject this approach, in the strongest terms, and reinforce WHO’s 2017 notice to governments and the public health community to reject any affiliation with FSFW because of the “number of clear conflicts of interest involved with a tobacco company funding a purported health foundation, particularly if it promotes sale of tobacco and other products found in that company’s brand portfolio.”

Analysis of leaked PMI corporate affairs documents suggests that the establishment of the FSFW is consistent with the company’s corporate strategy. The concern is that FSFW effectively operationalizes PMI’s corporate affairs strategy to further PMI’s business interests which include the promotion of its heated tobacco products, a market which PMI seeks to dominate. While PMI and its grantee claim a commitment to reducing harm; reports show that PMIs cigarettes continue to be heavily marketed in ways that attract children and undermine public health policy.

We are secure in the knowledge that the WHO does not engage with the tobacco industry or its proxies. We trust that you will respond to the PMI-funded FSFW in a manner consistent with the institution’s long-standing principles to protect its credibility and integrity bearing in mind that legitimizing FSFW through engagement would simply advance PMI’s agenda to the detriment of global health.

In the spirit of promoting partnerships to attain the SDGs, we hope that you will take this opportunity to establish WHO’s leadership in implementing the Model policy for agencies of the United Nations system on preventing tobacco industry interference.

The health of millions of people requires no less.

Signatory Organizations

1. Action on Smoking and Health Foundation, Thailand

2. Action on Smoking and Health (ASH US), USA

3. Advocacy Center “LIFE”, Ukraine

4. Airspace Action on Smoking and Health, Canada

5. Alcohol and Drug Information Centre (ADIC), Sri Lanka

6. American Cancer Society, United States

7. ASH Finland, Finland

8. ASH Scotland, United Kingdom

9. Association of European Cancer Leagues, Belgium

10. Australian Council on Smoking and Health, Australia

11. Australian Health Promotion Association, Australia

12. Austrian Council on Smoking and Health, Austria

13. Balajee Sewa Sansthan, India

14. Beijing Tobacco Control Association, China

15. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), United States

16. Cambodia Movement for Health (CMH), Cambodia

17. Cancer Council Australia, Australia

18. Cancer Council Victoria, Australia

19. Cancer Research UK, United Kingdom

20. Center for Research and Community Development Services, Vietnam

21. Chitranshu Samaj Kalyan Parishad, India

22. Coalition for a Tobacco Free Arkansas, United States

23. Comité National Contre le Tabagisme, France

24. Consumer Information Network, Kenya

25. Corporate Accountability, United States

26. Department of Community Medicine & Family Medicine / All India Institute of Medical Sciences, India

27. Development and Policies Research Center, Vietnam

28. European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention (ENSP), Belgium

29. European Public Health Association, The Netherlands

30. Economics of Tobacco Control Project – University of Cape Town, South Africa

31. FAECAP Federation of Family and Community Nursing Associations, Spain

32. Faith Foundation, India

33. FCTC Implementation and Monitoring Center in Georgia, Georgia

34. Forumul National de Preventie, Romania

35. Framework Convention Alliance (FCA), Canada

36. Fresh-Smoke Free North East, United Kingdom

37. Fondation Cancer, Luxembourg

38. Fundacja “Smart Health – Zdrowie w 3D”, Poland

39. GAT SEMFYC ( Family Doctors), Spain

40. Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC), Thailand

41. Grambangla Unnayan Committee (GUC), Bangladesh

42. Gramin Vikas Sewa Samiti, India

43. HealthBridge Foundation of Canada Vietnam Office, Vietnam

44. HealthJustice Philippines, Philippines

45. HRIDAY, India

46. Indonesian Public Health Association (IAKMI), Indonesia

47. Institute for Global Tobacco Control, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, United States

48. Institute for Youth Participation, Sustainable Development (IMZTR), Slovenia

49. Inter-American Heart Foundation, Brazil

50. Israel Cancer Association, Israel

51. Israeli Medical Association for Smoking Cessation and Prevention, Israel

52. Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control, Jamaica

53. Japan Society for Tobacco Control, Japan

54. Legal Engagement Advocating Development and Reform (LEADER, Inc.), Philippines

55. Lentera Anak Foundation, Indonesia

56. Lithuanian Tobacco and Alcohol Control Coalition, Lithuania

57. Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control, Malaysia

58. Malaysian Green Lung Association, Malaysia

59. Malaysian Medical Association, Malaysia

60. Malaysian Public Health Physician Association, Malaysia

61. MANT (Manbhum Ananda Ashram Nityananda Trust), India

62. Marathwada Gramin Vikas Sanstha, India

63. MyWatch, Malaysia

64. National Committee on Tobacco Control, Indonesia

65. National Coalition “For smoke-free Kazakstan”, Republic of Kazakstan

66. New Vois Association of the Philippines, Inc. (NVAP), Philippines

67. NCD Alliance, Switzerland

68. Nofumadores.org (non-smokers.org), Spain

69. Norwegian Cancer Society, Norway

70. OxySuisse, Switzerland

71. Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil

72. Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Studiesin Rural Development, India

73. People Health Foundation, Myanmar

74. Philippine Pediatric Society, Inc., Philippines

75. Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, Canada

76. PRASAR, India

77. Pra tyasha Anti-Drugs Club, Bangladesh

78. PROGGA, Bangladesh

79. Public Health Association of Australia, Australia

80. SGSS, India

81. Slovenian Coalition for Public Health, Environment and Tobacco Control, Slovenia

82. Smoke Free Israel, Israel

83. Smoke Free Life Coalition, Bulgaria

84. Smoke Free Partnership, Belgium

85. Sociedad Uruguaya de Tabacología, Uruguay

86. Società Italiana di Tabaccologia (SITAB), Italy

87. Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), Philippines

88. Subhash Children Society, India

89. Sustainable Development Network Malaysia, Malaysia

90. Swarna Hansa Foundation, Sri Lanka

91. Swiss Association for Smoking Prevention, Switzerland

92. Tanzania Tobacco Control Forum, Tanzania

93. The Heart Foundation of Jamaica, Jamaica

94. ThinkTank Research Center for Health Development, China

95. The Union, United States

96. Tobacco-Free Advocacy Japan (TFAJ), Japan

97. Tobacco – Free Association of Zambia, Zambia

98. Tobacco Control Research and Knowledge Management Center (TRC), Thailand

99. Tobacco Control Research Group and Tobacco Tactics, University of Bath, United Kingdom

100. UBINIG (Policy Research for Development Alternative), Bangladesh

101. Vietnam Non-communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Alliance, Vietnam

102. Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), Ghana

103. Vital Strategies, United States

104. Womanhealth Philippines Inc., Philippines

105. World Federation of Public Health Associations, Australia

106. World Heart Federation, Switzerland

107. XQNS Initiative, Spain

108. 1Youth Network No Excuse Slovenia, Slovenia

109. 100% BFOM, Philippines

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