I have already written about why I refused to participate in the activities of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, which I believe is essentially a front-group created by Philip Morris International (PMI) primarily to promote its business interests. I explained that if PMI were serious about creating a smoke-free world, it would stop aggressively marketing its deadly products throughout the world and stop opposing public health policies to reduce tobacco use.
The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World recently released a
call for research proposals for preliminary projects that entail research to
help the Foundation obtain the background information necessary for it to
proceed effectively in its supposed mission to create a smoke-free world. By reviewing
the call for proposals, we are now able to understand just how the Foundation
is essentially a scam operation.
The Foundation calls for “scoping projects” to study
strategies to reduce smoking. But nowhere in the five-page document does it
mention anything about interventions to: (1) severely restrict or curtail
cigarette advertising and marketing; (2) require plain packaging; (3)
substantially increase cigarette taxes; (4) promote 100% smoke-free
environments; and (5) heavily fund aggressive, state-of-the-art anti-smoking
In fact, the word “industry” appears only once, and it is
not clear that marketing, taxation, clean indoor air, or counter-advertising are
what the Foundation has in mind (especially since it groups “industry” with “farming”).
In contrast, the Foundation does want to support research on
the role of genetics, physiology, individual choices and activities and environmental
Frankly, this is all essentially a waste of time. We already
know what interventions are most effective in reducing smoking rates. We don’t
need more research to find out what works. What we need to do is to heavily
fund programs to promote these tried and true policy strategies.
If the Foundation were serious about wanting to create a
smoke-free world, then instead of wasting this money on research into topics
like genetics and individual choices and activities, it would use its money to
fund programs to implement – worldwide – policies and programs that we know are
effective. These are: 1) severely restrict or curtail cigarette advertising and
marketing; (2) require plain packaging; (3) substantially increase cigarette
taxes; (4) promote 100% smoke-free environments; and (5) heavily fund
aggressive, state-of-the-art anti-smoking media campaigns. It would also
provide funding to create or supplement tobacco control infrastructure in
countries throughout the world and to support the development of grassroots
coalitions to promote policies to fight the tobacco industry.
In other words, these are all the programs that the
Foundation fails to mention at all in its call for proposals.
Sometimes, what you don’t say is more important than what
you do say. That is certainly the case here. The Foundation says nothing about
the most effective interventions to reduce smoking, while focusing almost
exclusively on areas that have little to no relevance.
You might argue that the Foundation can’t fund programs to
promote bans on cigarette marketing, high cigarette taxes, plain packaging, and
aggressive anti-smoking media campaigns that attack the industry because it is
funded by the tobacco industry. Well … that’s exactly the point. A foundation
funded by a large, multinational tobacco company is not in a position to carry
out the types of initiatives that are most effective in reducing smoking. This
is why I believe the Foundation is essentially a scam operation.