This page was last edited on at

Knowledge-Action-Change Limited (K-A-C) is a private organisation founded by Gerry Stimson. It is funded by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW), which is in turn funded by Philip Morris International (PMI).


K-A-C was founded by Professor Gerry Stimson in 2011,1 along with its communications arm, KAC Communications, in 2014.2

Relationship with the tobacco industry

K-A-C Funded by Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

In 2017 and 2018, K-A-C was awarded over US$ 1 million funding from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW), an ostensibly independent scientific organisation aimed at ‘accelerating the end of smoking’ which is solely funded by Philip Morris International.34

The grant funded the following activities:34

  • US$306,373 “to increase capacity for conducting and understanding research related to tobacco harm reduction”;
  • US$69,000 to produce “a combination of online journals”;
  • US$176,700 “to support the production of the first edition of the global state of tobacco harm reduction” (GSTHR, which was launched under the title ‘’No Fire, No Smoke’’ in October 2018);
  • US$32,000 to translate the report into Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish; and
  • a further US$ 467,291 for road shows to promote the report, including ones that took place in Malawi and Kenya in March 2019.5

In 2019, K-A-C received a further US$1,378,366 in funding from FSFW to “extend the tobacco harm reduction scholarship programme for students and mentors in low and middle income countries” and “consolidate Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction’s position as a trusted source of robust, objective, and independent information on tobacco harm reduction”.6 The 2019 FSFW tax return also noted US$5,999,811 as “contributions approved for future payment”.6

In 2020, K-A-C received two more grants from the FSFW, amounting to US$937,191. The first grant to work on increasing “research capacity to understand, develop, and implement the science and evidence base relevant to THR” which resulted in the launch of the GTHR Scholarship programme 2020. The second grant to “Develop and disseminate Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction report to increase awareness about national THR and cessation”, which funded the production of the second issue to the GSTHR (titled “Burning Issues”), its translations, and a briefing paper titled “Tobacco Harm Reduction and the Right to Health” 7 These projects received further grants totalling US$1,837,882 from FSFW in 2021,8 and a further US$1,501,604 in 2022.9

Historical Links with Nicoventures

K-A-C has also received funding from Nicoventures, which was set up by BAT in 2010. Stimson is largely transparent about these links in the academic literature, although he describes Nicoventures only as an e-cigarette company rather than a company set up, and wholly owned, by BAT. For example, one such declaration says: “A company of which G.S. Gerry Stimson is a director has received a research feasibility grant from an electronic cigarette company developing a new nicotine delivery device.”1011

At a February 2013 NICE meeting, Stimson also “declared that he is the director of a company called Knowledge Action Change, which has requested and received development funding from For more see our page on Gerry Stimson.


A current list of K-A-C employees can be found on the companies’ website. As of June 2020, key staff members included:12

  • Gerry Stimson (Founder and incorporator) – Policy and Research Director
  • Paddy Costall (joined August 20111) – Logistics and External Liaison Director
  • Dr Grzegorz Król (joined January 2018 1) – IT and Design Director
  • Bisola Obileye (joined KAC Communications January 20142) – Director of Finance
  • Harry Shapiro – GSTHR and Policy Work
  • Kevin Molloy – Director of Foundation Projects
  • Suely Castro – Events Manager
  • Ruth Goldsmith – Communications Manager
  • Vlad Radchenko – IT and Multimedia


The 2020 Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction (GSTHR), entitled “Tobacco harm reduction and the right to health”, argues that policy that bars access to “safer nicotine products” also “denies people their right to health as enshrined in many international health conventions”. This report was also funded by the FSFW. Repeating an oft-used tobacco industry assertion, the report argues that “government policies and regulation are being unduly influenced by flawed science and anti-harm reduction lobbying” and that “flawed public health information in many countries is confusing and misleading people who want to switch away from smoking”.

It advocates a “rational” approach to both “Big Tobacco” and nicotine and castigates the WHO’s “resistance to tobacco harm reduction” as “missing the most significant public health opportunity the world has ever seen”.13 The GSTHR report was launched in Kenya at an event organised by the Campaign for Safer Alternatives (CASA). CASA is chaired by Joseph Magero, recipient of a Global Tobacco Harm Reduction Scholarship, which is funded by KAC and the FSFW.1415

The ‘’No Fire, No Smoke’’ report, which was launched in Geneva when the WHO FCTC Conference of the Parties (COP8) took place, warned against “over-proscriptive regulation and control” in tobacco control.16 The report credited Stimson as the “project management” and declared that it was supported “solely by a grant from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World”. The report stated that it takes “its inspiration from the Global State of Harm Reduction report, which was first published by the International Harm Reduction Association (now called Harm Reduction International) back in 2006 and which is about to go into its sixth iteration.”

For COP9, held in Geneva and online in 2021, K-A-C released another GSTHR report titled “Fighting the Last War: the WHO and International Tobacco Control”.17 The report criticized the WHO and promoted “the “public health potential”17 of nicotine products. A series of interviews were conducted at the Oval Cricket ground in London as part of the launch event.18 Apart from Gerry Stimson and Harry Shapiro from K-A-C, interviews were conducted with Derek Yach (now ex-Director of FSFW) and Charles Gardner (Executive Director of INNCO).19

Other K-A-C outputs have also been funded by the FSFW:

Its Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) Scholarship Programme, first set up in early 2018 and which it initially co-organised with GFN, is funded by a grant from the FSFW.2021 The THR Scholarship Programme has branches in Malawi,22 Nigeria23 and Brazil (also affiliated with INNCO).24

Reports produced by scholarship recipients in 2018/19 included topics such as harm reduction in Malawi; tobacco cultivation in Bangladesh; and bidi smokers in India.25 The majority of recipients in 2018 and 2019 came from low and middle-income countries (LMICs), including Romania, Bulgaria, Kenya, Nigeria, Malawi, Ghana, Brazil and Nepal. A smaller number came from high income countries, mainly the United States, New Zealand and Ireland.26 The programme mentors are affiliated with FSFW grantees, including Filter magazine, COREISS, and CHRE; and the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA), of which Gerry Stimson was a board member until 2019.27

K-A-C also manages the website Nicotine Science Policy, that produces updates on “nicotine containing products, in particular nicotine delivery devices such as electronic cigarettes and other novel nicotine delivery systems, smokeless tobacco, and other non-combustible tobacco products.”28


K-A-C is responsible for organising the Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN). The Forum says it is “funded by registration fees and does not receive any sponsorship from manufacturers, distributors or retailers of nicotine products including pharmaceutical, electronic cigarette and tobacco companies”.29 However, since 2017 the GFN has been held annually alongside a manufacturers’ event, the International Symposium on Nicotine Technology (ISoNTech), which is part-funded by tobacco companies. For more information, see our dedicated page on the GFN.

K-A-C has also organised the annual City Health International (CHI) conference, since it was founded in 2012, through KAC Communications.3031 Speakers at the 2020 CHI conference include Michael McGrady, recipient of a K-A-C Tobacco Harm Reduction Scholarship funded by FSFW,32 and Marewa Glover, founder of the FSFW-funded COREISS.33 KAC is also custodian of CHI’s Paolo Pertica award.34 CHI has also hosted annual lectures since 2010. Lecture speakers affiliated with K-A-C have included Gerry Stimson (2010) and Harry Shapiro (2016).35


K-A-C helped set up the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO), following a meeting held at the GFN in Warsaw in June 2016, convened by Stimson and other members of K-A-C.36 INNCO was set up to “gain civil society consumer organisation stakeholder status” and have a voice at the WHO FCTC COP7.37 INNCO was funded by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World in 2018.38

In 2018, it was reported in Australian media that K-A-C had donated US$8000 to The Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association (ATHRA).394041  ATHRA states that it does “not accept donations from tobacco companies or their subsidiaries or from the vape industry”.42

Relevant links

  • Knowledge-Action-Change website
  • KAC Communications website
  • Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) website
  • Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) Scholarships website
  • Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction website
  • Nicotine Science and Policy website

TobaccoTactics resources

TCRG research

L. Robertson, A. Joshi, T. Legg, et al., Exploring the Twitter activity around the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Tobacco Control Published Online First: 11 November 2020, doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2020-055889

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. abcKnowledge-Action-Change Limited: Filing History, Companies House, undated, accessed May 2020
  2. abKAC Communications: Filing History, Companies House, undated, accessed May 2020
  3. abFoundation for a Smoke-Free World, 2017 Tax Return, 26 March 2018, accessed from Charity Navigator website, May 2019
  4. abFoundation for a Smoke-Free World, Form 990-PF, 2018 Tax Return, 13 May 2019, accessed May 2019
  5. Knowledge Action Change, As Worldwide Smoking Rates Fall, Africa’s Shoot up, With Deadly Consequences, PR Newswire, 18 March 2019, accessed May 2019
  6. abFoundation for a Smoke-Free World, Form 990-PF, 2019 Tax Return, 15 May 2020, accessed May 2020
  7. Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, Form 990-PF, 2020 Tax Return, 17 May 2021, accessed May 2021
  8. Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, Form 990-PF, 2021 Tax Return, 16 May 2022, accessed May 2022
  9. Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, Form 990-PF, 2022 Tax Return, 15 May 2023, accessed May 2023
  10. K.E. Farsalinos, G.V. Stimson, Is there any legal and scientific basis for classifying electronic cigarettes as medications?, International Journal of Drug Policy, 2014;25: 340–5, doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2014.03.003
  11. L. Williamson, B. Thom, G.V. Stimson et al, Stigma as a public health tool: Implications for health promotion and citizen involvement, International Journal of Drug Policy, 2014;25(3):333–5, doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2014.04.008
  12. Knowledge-Action-Change, Our team, undated, archived June 2020
  13. Knowledge Action Change, Tobacco harm reduction and the right to health, 2020, accessed February 2020
  14. Looking for change, tobaccoreporter, 19 March 2019, accessed May 2020
  15. M. McGrady, African Experts Explain Their Challenges in Reducing Tobacco Harms, Filter, 29 July 2019, accessed May 2020
  16. H. Shapiro, No Fire, No Smoke. Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction, Knowledge-Action-Change, 2018, accessed November 2018
  17. abH. Shapiro, Fighting the Last War: the WHO and International Tobacco Control, Knowledge-Action-Change, 2021, accessed November 2021
  18. GSTHR interviews, Regulator Watch website,  accessed November 2021
  19. about us, INNCO, accessed November 2021
  20. Global Forum on Nicotine, Tobacco Harm Reduction Scholarships, 2018, accessed February 2018
  21. Knowledge-Action-Change, The KAC Global Tobacco Harm Reduction Scholarship Programme 2019, undated, accessed November 2018
  22. THR Malawi, About Us, THR Malawi website, undated, accessed February 2020
  23. THR Nigeria, undated, accessed May 2020
  24. THR Brasil, undated, accessed February 2020
  25. Knowledge-Action-Change, KAC Scholars 2018/19, undated, accessed February 2020
  26. Knowledge-Action-Change, KAC Scholars 2019/20, undated, accessed February 2020
  27. Tobacco Harm Reduction Scholarship Programme, Mentors, undated, accessed May 2020
  28. Nicotine Science Policy, Nicotine Science and Policy News Digest, undated, accessed November 2018
  29. Global Forum on Nicotine, Global Forum on Nicotine, Evidence, Accountability, Transparency 2016 17-18 June, accessed March 2016
  30. City Health International, CHI2012 Conference Reader PDF, 22-23 October 2012, accessed May 2020
  31. G. Stimson, LinkedIn profile, accessed May 2020
  32. Filter, Michael McGrady, undated, accessed April 2020
  33. City Health International, CHI 2020 – ONLINE: Draft Programme Outline, undated, accessed May 2020
  34. City Health International, Paolo Pertica: Award Information, undated, accessed May 2020
  35. City Health International, Lectures, undated, accessed May 2020
  36. Global Forum on Nicotine, Notes from Consumer Advocates’ Meeting, 17 June, GFN website, undated (2018), accessed November 2019
  37. INNCO, Aims and objectives, undated, archived 28 October 2019, accessed January 2020
  38. Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, Form 990-PF, 2018 Tax Return, 13 May 2019, accessed May 2019
  39. E. Han, Secret industry funding of doctor-led vaping lobby group laid bare, The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 August 2018, accessed June 2023
  40. E.Han, ‘Independent’ doctor-led vaping group accepts tobacco-tainted fundingSidney Morning Herald, 16 October 2018, archived July 2022, accessed June 2023
  41. M. Daube, S. Chapman, Reporting Conflicts of Interest, American Journal of Public Health, 2021 Feb;111(2):e1-e2. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2020.306046
  42. ATHRA, funding, ATHRA website, 20 June 2023
Go to Homepage