Philip Morris Phony Foundation | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Philip Morris International’s Massive Public Relations Campaign

Philip Morris International established the “Foundation for a Smoke-Free World” in 2017, claiming that the foundation would be an independent entity concerned with addressing the harms of tobacco use. After failing to be accepted in the public health arena, PMI announced in October 2023 that the “Foundation for a Smoke-Free World” will change its name and be more independent. Philip Morris International (PMI), maker of Marlboro cigarettes and IQOS heated tobacco products, is one of the largest tobacco companies in the world.

Since its founding, it has been clear that the foundation – funded 100% by PMI – is nothing more than the company’s latest effort to rehabilitate its image and undermine tobacco control policies. The foundation spends more money on public relations work than research, and the “independent” research it does fund is on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products – products that are made by PMI and that generate enormous revenues for the company. Meanwhile, PMI engages in large-scale lobbying and prolonged and expensive litigation against tobacco control policies that are proven to work.

The world’s most prominent schools of public health and global health leaders have refused to work with the foundation. Many have denounced the foundation and its allies because they are a key part of PMI’s strategy to addict its customers to harmful tobacco and nicotine products.

In October of 2023, the foundation announced that it had chosen a new president, Cliff Douglas, and that under Douglas it would sever all ties with PMI. The foundation also promised that it would never again seek tobacco industry funding – after accepting an additional check from PMI for over $120 million. Since its inception, the foundation has paid over $5 million  in funding from PMI to the same public relations firms that tobacco companies use. It also provides grants aimed at undermining both the implementation of the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and national tobacco control policies. The foundation has also distributed grants to fund tobacco industry front groups and to confuse the public and policymakers about the risks of e-cigarettes.

Cigarette companies like PMI have only one objective: profit. By masquerading as an independent, health-focused organization, the foundation tries to appear credible while furthering the interests of Big Tobacco.

No matter its name, the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World is a Philip Morris-funded public relations ploy to increase sales and help the company appear to have changed its tune. Tobacco companies, including PMI, have a long history of funding supposedly independent front groups and manipulating research to deceive the public and advance their business interests at the expense of public health. The Foundation for a Smoke-free World is no different and no one should be fooled.

Last updated Jan. 22, 2024