Less Harmful Coalition

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The Less Harmful Coalition describes itself as an “incorporated, not-for-profit organization”.1 It was first incorporated as a business in Canada, in September 2021, under a different name.234

Its stated mission is “to advance education and awareness of pragmatic approaches to less harmful substance use, mental health, and other harms impacting people and communities in Canada.”5

Relationship with the tobacco industry

The organisation is supported by Philip Morris International, via its Canadian subsidiary Rothmans, Benson & Hedges.5

Established as “Outfox Harm Reduction Coalition”

According to Canadian government registers, the organisation was incorporated as “Outfox Harm Reduction Coalition” in September 2021.234

The website initially used the same name and stated that it welcomed “prospective members who share our vision for pragmatic approaches to substance use.” 6 It did not reveal its funder.6

Belinda Fox, one of the coalition directors, had had previously been contracted by PMI via her company Outfox Communications (see below for details).

The website domain name lessharmful.com was registered in February 2022.7

Renamed “Harm Reduction Coalition”

By March 2022, the name “Outfox” was no longer included in the organisation’s name or website.8 The site now included sections on Tobacco Harm Reduction, Alcohol Harm Reduction, Psychedelics and Cannabis.8

At the time, Dr Jane Foster was listed as Director of the Harm Reduction Coalition and as “a consultant with the scientific engagement team at RBH, Inc.”910

The organisation held a Harm Reduction Forum in April 2022.1112

Foster was listed as a speaker.11

Foster is no longer listed on the website.5(See below for details of current Directors)

Renamed “Less Harmful Coalition”

By May 2022, the organisation had again been renamed, although the website URL remained unchanged.31314

The website originally stated that “Our directors have clinical and research expertise in the areas of mental health and addiction”.68 This phrase was removed between May and July 2022. 1315

Revealed tobacco industry funder

By mid-September 2022, the website had been redesigned. It stated clearly that it is supported by Rothmans, Benson and Hedges (RBH), a subsidiary of Philip Morris International (PMI).51514

The organisation web page also featured the logos of Canada-Alberta Job Grant, a programme funded by the Government of Alberta, Canada,16 and Venture for Canada, a charity supporting entrepreneurship, which receives funding from the Canadian government.17


As of October 2022, the following were listed:

  • Belinda Fox, Director.4 Her company Outfox Communications conducted work for PMI in 2019/2020 to “help them [RBH] engage health care researchers and practitioners in order to share scientific clinical trial data for reduced risk nicotine products (within the parameters of Canada’s tobacco policy framework).”1819
    Outfox organised an ‘Indigenous Harm Reduction Forum’ held on November 14, 2019 in Alberta, Canada, sponsored by RBH executive Jeff Gaulin gave the opening remarks, and referred to PMI’s promotional campaign ‘Unsmoke Canada’.20 For more on PMI’s ‘smoke-free’ campaigns see Philip Morris International.
  • Donald Makowichuk, Director.21
  • Sumantra (Monty) Ghosh, Advisor.22
  • Chase Miller, Communications.
  • Dean Paddock, Consultant.


The Nicotine Debate

This event, held online on 28 September 2022,23 involved a “discussion on the science of reduced-risk nicotine products for adult smokers.”23

One speaker listed was Dr Rachel Murkett, Director of Biochromex, a life sciences company which has received funds from the PMI-funded Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW).23 For details see Foundation for a Smoke-Free World’s Tobacco Transformation Index.

Less Harmful Summit

The Less Harmful Coalition hosted a ‘Less Harmful Summit’ in Toronto, Canada, on October 26 2022.2425 Neither the event pages nor the Twitter profile mentioned RBH or PMI.242627

Earlier in 2022 the organization had approached academics to participate in a panel at the summit. An e-mail from the Speakers and Partners Lead to a UK academic, sent in July 2022, did not mention sponsorship by RBH.28 At that time there was no information about this sponsorship on the organisation’s website.15

Relevant Link

TobaccoTactics Resources

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  1. Less Harmful Coalition, website, undated, accessed September 2022
  2. abLess Harmful Coalition (Canada), ID# 13268195, opengovca.com, accessed September 2022
  3. abcGovernment of Canada, Less Harmful Coalition (Canada), Corporation number 1326819-5, Federal Corporate Information, accessed October 2022
  4. abcLess Harmful Coalition: Company number 13268195, Open Corporates, accessed October 2022
  5. abcdLess Harmful Coalition, Who we are, website, undated, archived 18 May 2022, accessed September 2022
  6. abcOutfox Harm Reduction Coalition, less harmful.com website, undated, archived 28 February 2022, accessed September 2022
  7. WhoIs DomainTools, LessHarmful.com, domain profile, accessed October 2022
  8. abcHarm Reduction Coalition, less harmful.com website, undated, archived 21 March 2022, accessed September 2022
  9. Who we are: Welcome, lessharmful.com website, undated, archived 27 March 2022, accessed October 2022
  10. J. Foster, Smoke-free devices provide an effective alternative to significantly reduce risk for Canadians, Canadian Science Policy Centre, 11 November 2020, archived September 2021, accessed October 2022
  11. abHarm Reduction Coalition, Harm Reduction Forum,  external event programme, available from saskhealthgquality.ca, archived November 2021, accessed October 2022
  12. Brent Stafford/Regulator Watch, Clear Thinking: Insights from the Harm Reduction Forum, Regulator Watch website, 7 April 2022, accessed October 2022
  13. abLess Harmful Coalition, less harmful.com website, undated, archived 18 May 2022, accessed September 2022
  14. abLess Harmful Coalition, less harmful.com website, undated, archived 8 August 2022, accessed September 2022
  15. abcLess Harmful Coalition, less harmful.com website, undated, archived 18 July 2022, accessed September 2022
  16. Canada Alberta Job Grant, website, undated, accessed September 2022
  17. Venture for Canada, website, undated, accessed September 2022
  18. Local Communications Company Takes Home 2020 Gold Quill of Merit, iabcalgary.com, 2 August 2020, 25 March 2022, accessed September 2022
  19. Outfox Communications Inc. Business number 717450282, Canada’s Business Registries, accessed October 2022
  20. Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, RBH Opening Remarks: Indigenous Harm Reduction Forum, press release, 14 November 2019, archived July 2022, accessed September 2022
  21. Donald Makowichuk, LinkedIn profile, accessed October 2022
  22. HPHR Journal, D. Summantra Monty Gosh, website profile, undated, accessed October 2020
  23. abcLess Harmful Coalition, The Nicotine Debate, Eventbrite event page, undated, accessed September 2022
  24. abLess Harmful Coalition, Less Harmful Summit 2022, Eventbrite event page, undated, accessed September 2022
  25. Less Harmful Coalition, Less Harmful Summit 2022 Toronto, undated, archived 5 October 2022, accessed October 2022
  26. Eventbrite, Less Harmful Coalition, Eventbrite profile, undated, accessed October 2022
  27. Less Harmful Coalition, Twitter profile, accessed September 2022
  28. Brock de Wolde/Less Harmful Coalition, E-mail to Professor Ed Stevens 18 July 2022 12:59, subject: Virtual Panel Inquiry