No Takers for Philip Morris’ Foundation for Smoke Free World Event

4 July 2019, Bangkok – The Foundation for Smoke Free World (FSFW)-backed event called Smoke Free Dialogue in Bangkok being convened by SustainAbility in Bangkok had been cancelled because “few attendees confirmed”, according to the organizers’ response to invitees. Prof. Prakit Vatheesatogkit, President of ASH Thailand, explained that the academic community in Bangkok had already prepared to boycott the event when the news arrived. 

Along with academics and officials in Thailand, officers from the Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC) have been invited to the said event; in response, GGTC issued an open letter to reject “the” invitation on 1 July 2019 and urged others to do the same. A similar event in Turkey had been cancelled just last week following efforts of WHO Turkey, government officials, and the NGO community to denounce the event for being tobacco industry-funded. On 4 July 2019, Philip Morris Thailand released a statement, denying their involvement in the FSFW activity.

FSFW was established through Philip Morris International’s (PMI) funding of $960 million over a 12-year period. It has been reaching out to research organizations and NGOs in search of partners for “smoke free” and scientific initiatives that promote smoking alternatives such as electronic nicotine delivery systems (including IQOS, a device PMI aggressively markets).  Recent evidence from Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP) shows that the FSFW has been engaging with public relations, legal, and research organizations that have ties to the tobacco industry; has been spending more on Public Relations (PR) than on research; and are “playing a key public relations role for PMI”; but despite its PR investment, FSFW’s press coverage has largely been negative.

The public rejection of FSFW is one of many. In 2017 when FSFW was established, World Health Organization (WHO) and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) Secretariat issued statements denouncing FSFW and urging the governments and public health community not to partner with FSFW. Public health communities and academic researchers from prestigious universities in Australia, Canada and the US including Harvard School of Public Health, have publicly denounced the FSFW.

In January 2019, about 300 organizations and individuals urged the WHO to reject FSFW’s attempts to partner with; and the WHO chimed in by reiterating its position not to partner with the tobacco industry and those representing its interests including the FSFW. 

FSFW provides grants in health, smoke-free environments, harm reduction, science, technology, innovations, agriculture, and livelihoods — ostensibly in support of PMI’s marketing strategy to sell harmful and addictive drug delivery devices.  Recently, university scientists funded by PMI have been reportedly promoting heated tobacco products in Kazakhstan where NGOs continue to denounce such partnerships due to the tobacco industry’s long history of obfuscating science. In the interest of public health and development, various governments such as those from Vietnam, Poland, Thailand and India have warned research bodies and government agencies against partnerships with the tobacco industry and those it funds particularly, PMI and FSFW. 

GGTC’s Executive Director Bungon Ritthipakdee condemned PMI and FSFW’s attempts to lure advocates and researchers, especially those in the academe. She lauded the Thai advocates and other invitees who have conscientiously rejected the tobacco industry-funded event and urged those who have received funding from the PMI/ FSFW to reject and denounce such funding in order to be consistent with their moral and legal duties to uphold public interests.

Eight million lives continue to be taken by the tobacco industry annually. Addictive products of the tobacco industry continue to be a threat to the youth. Resources about the rejection of PMI-FSFW are made available in the websites of GGTC, as well as the University of Bath-Tobacco Control Research Group, with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP) initiative.

 

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Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC) aims to address the single greatest obstacle to tobacco control, tobacco industry interference. It is a joint initiative of the School of Global Studies, Thammasat University and Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) and has been designated as the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Secretariat as the Knowledge Hub on Article 5.3, (treaty provision on countering tobacco industry interference).  GGTC is also a key partner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP).

 

 

CONTACT INFORMATION
Bungon Ritthiphakdee
Executive Director

bungon@ggtc.world
+639178355355

 

For more information, see:

  1. GGTC (1 July 2019). Public Statement in relation to the invitation to attend tobacco industry-backed ‘Smoke Free Dialogue’. Available at
    https://ggtc.world/2019/07/01/tobacco-industrys-smoke-free-dialogue-global-center-for-good-governance-in-tobacco-control/
  2. STOP Industry Activity Brief. Latest Tax Return Sheds Light on The Philip Morris-funded Foundation for a Smoke-free World. Available at
    https://ggtc.world/dmdocuments/Briefing%20paper%20Latest%20tax%20return%20sheds%20light%20on%20the%20Philip%20Morris%20funded%20Foundation%20for%20a%20Smoke%20free%20World%2020%2006%202019.pdf
  3. WHO (27 September 2017). WHO Statement on Philip Morris funded Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. Available at
    https://untobaccocontrol.org/kh/article-53/statement-philip-morris-funded-foundation-smoke-free-world/
  4. GGTC (28 January 2019). An open letter to the Director General and Executive Board of the World Health Organization. Available at
    https://ggtc.world/dmdocuments/Open%20Letter%20to%20the%20Director%20General%20and%20Executive%20Board%20of%20the%20WHO%2030%2001%202019%20.pdf