WHO rejects collaboration with Philip Morris-funded foundation

Public health round-up: World Health Organization

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus rejected a collaboration proposal from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, funded by PhilipMorris International.

The foundation proposed that WHO “review and consider how best to work with the foundation to facilitate a rapid reduction in the use of lethal cigarettes” in an open letter to the WHO Executive Board which met between 24 January and 1 February.

Speaking to the Executive Board, the Director-General stated that WHO would not partner with the foundation and recommended that Member States and and their counterparts also refuse to do so.

“WHO will NOT partner with Philip Morris-funded foundation for a Smoke-Free World nor any other group funded by the tobacco industry. Governments and the public health community should follow this lead” was the message tweeted by @WHO, shortly after his statement.

The statement repeats the position articulated by WHO in 2017, when the foundation was created.

The foundation claims to provide grants for “medical, agricultural, and scientific research to end smoking and its health effects and to address the impact of reduced worldwide demand for tobacco.” Philip Morris is introducing a new portfolio of products, including heated tobacco products, into many markets. Research on such products is funded by the foundation.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’s (WHO FCTC) Secretariat has been similarly forthright in its rejection of the foundation, stating that it is a clear attempt to breach the WHO FCTC by interfering in public policy “aimed at damaging the treaty’s implementation, particularly through the foundation’s contentious research programmes.”