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Philip Morris’ Billion-Dollar Advertising Push

Philip Morris International (PMI) – the giant cigarette manufacturer – announced in September 2017 that it had established the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, with funding of $80 million per year for 12 years. That’s nearly a billion dollars getting in the way of proven approaches to protect the public’s health. Make no mistake, the PMI-funded foundation is part of the company’s strategy to addict its customers to tobacco products that kill more than 8 million people worldwide each year.

Undermining Global Public Health

Just as Big Tobacco has done for the past 60 years, the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World is Philip Morris’ latest effort to undermine efforts to drive down rates of tobacco use by funding so-called “independent” research on safer alternatives to smoking cigarettes. And it’s no surprise that these alternative products are tobacco and nicotine products made by Philip Morris that will generate enormous profits for the company if they become popular.

The danger of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World goes far beyond a misleading name. The interests of big tobacco companies like Philip Morris International are the polar opposite of those tasked with safe-guarding public health. By masquerading as an independent, health-focused organization, the foundation is trying to work with credible leaders in the public health community to further the interests of Big Tobacco.

The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a public health treaty in place for more than a decade, provides countries with evidence-based solutions proven to curb tobacco use. The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World was designed to distract public health leaders, researchers and governments from these science-based efforts.

Since 2017, the PMI-funded foundation has devoted more than USD $7.5 million to public relations efforts to convince the public health sector, policymakers and the public that it is independent from Philip Morris. In reality, funding from Foundation for a Smoke-Free World is just an attempt by the cigarette manufacturer to repaint its corporate image and undermine tobacco control research and policies proven to reduce tobacco use.

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