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3 things to know about the foundation for a smoke-free world

Why isn’t the public health community cheering about a new foundation that claims it will provide almost $1 billion to eliminate smoking worldwide? Find out who’s behind the organization, Foundation for a Smoke-Free World.

It is funded by the world’s largest cigarette maker.

The biggest global manufacturer and marketer of cigarettes, Philip Morris International, is behind the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. Beginning in 2018, the company plans to contribute $80 million annually over the next 12 years to the foundation. It claims these funds will be dedicated to accelerating global efforts to reduce deaths and harm from smoking, with the goal of eliminating smoking worldwide.

This foundation sounds familiar.

While the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World may sound like good news, history has proven, time and time again, that the tobacco industry only looks out for its own best interests. The new foundation is reminiscent of when Philip Morris and other tobacco companies sought to establish industry-favorable research by creating and funding alleged independent research organizations, such as the Council for Tobacco Research and the Center for Indoor Air Research. Ultimately, the purpose of these organizations was to protect the industry from litigation threats and government regulation by distributing questionable science to distract from the irrefutable evidence of the death and disease caused by tobacco use.

If the company really wanted a smoke-free world, it would stop selling cigarettes.

If Philip Morris really wanted to end cigarette use, it would stop selling cigarettes and opposing proven-effective tobacco control efforts, such as clean indoor air, higher taxation and plain-package labeling. The company, however, has been completely silent on any companion announcement to reduce marketing support for its combustible products or eliminate opposition and legal challenges to tobacco control efforts worldwide.

Philip Morris makes and sells smokeless tobacco products, including the “heat-not-burn” devices the company is seeking approval from the Food and Drug Administration to sell in the U.S., while piloting them in 26 other countries. But cigarettes continue to make up most of the company’s business — a $75-billion-a-year enterprise that distributes enough cigarettes to supply five packs a year to every person on the planet.