The Influence Foundation

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The Influence Foundation was founded in New York in 2017. Its stated aim is “to advocate through journalism for rational and compassionate approaches to drug use, drug policy and human rights”.1 It is part-funded by tobacco companies and related third parties.

The Influence Foundation owns and operates Filter magazine, which has published multiple articles criticising tobacco control policies23 and arguing against regulations relating to newer nicotine and tobacco products.45

Links to the Tobacco Industry

Direct funding from tobacco companies

The Influence Foundation receives funding from tobacco companies including Philip Morris International, Altria, and British American Tobacco subsidiary Reynolds American Inc, as well as from the e-cigarette company JUUL Labs, which was part-owned by Altria between 2018 and 2023.6

Supported by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

It is also a grantee of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW). In 2020, FSFW awarded the Influence Foundation a grant to “expand Filter’s capacity to produce, publish, and promote informative and evidence-based THR [tobacco harm reduction] information and articles with higher volume, quality, and reach”,7 and in 2022, awarded another with the aim of “Enhancing Filter’s Capacity to Communicate About Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR)”.8

In July and August 2023, Filter magazine published articles ahead of the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).  Written by the pro-tobacco blogger and International Fellow at the Taxpayers’ Protection Alliance (TPA), Martin Cullip, they criticised the WHO and its supposed “assault on tobacco harm reduction”. 910 Around the COP 10 meeting in early 2024, Filter published further articles by Lindsey Stroud of the TPA.111213 The TPA provided funding to the Influence Foundation “to support travel to Good COP”, a parallel meeting run by the TPA during COP 10.14 For more information see Interference around COP 10 & MOP 3.

FSFW also awarded a grant to the Influence Foundation’s past fiscal sponsor, Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP), to “share stories that present facts about tobacco harm reduction and nicotine” through Filter magazine.15 LEAP also accepts funding from tobacco companies.1617

The Influence Foundation has received funding from industry third parties, including Knowledge-Action-Change (funded by FSFW) and R-Street Institute (part-funded by Altria).6

Board Members

Board members include:

  • Will Godfrey, President and Executive Director of the Influence Foundation, and editor-in-chief of Filter.1 He is a regular attendee and speaker at the Global Forum on Nicotine,18 an annual conference organised by Knowledge-Action-Change, which each year features tobacco industry speakers and panellists.
  • Lt. Diane Goldstein (Ret.), the executive director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP), which has received funding from tobacco companies.1617

TobaccoTactics Resources

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  1. abThe Influence Foundation, About the Influence Foundation, Filter website, undated, accessed October 2022
  2. J.Iakovos, Tobacco bans in our prisons are rich pickings for me—and the COs, Filter website, May 2022, archived October 2022, accessed November 2022
  3. T.Castillo, Banning menthol cigarettes criminalizes black communities, say advocates, Filter website, September 2019, archived August 2022, accessed November 2022
  4. A.Norcia, Federal bill aims to tax vapes as much as cigarettes, Filter website, April 2021, archived January 2022, accessed November 2022
  5. G.Stimson, The right to health means the right to tobacco harm reduction, Filter website, June 2022, accessed November 2022
  6. abOur supporters, About the Influence Foundation, Filter website, undated, accessed October 2022
  7. Awarded grants, The Influence Foundation, Inc.(Filter Magazine) (USA), 2020, Foundation for a Smoke Free World website, undated, archived April 2022, accessed November 2022
  8. Awarded grants, The Influence Foundation, Inc.(Filter Magazine) (USA), 2022, Foundation for a Smoke Free World website, undated, accessed November 2022
  9. M. Cullip, Time Short to Stop the WHO’s Assault on Tobacco Harm ReductionFilter, 12 July 2023, accessed August 2023
  10. M. Cullip, The WHO’s COP10 Takedown of Tobacco Harm Reduction Takes ShapeFilter, 3 August 2023, accessed August 2023
  11. L. Stroud, WHO Renews Tobacco Harm Reduction Attacks in Runup to COP10Filter, 11 January 2024, accessed February 2024
  12. L.Stroud, WHO Renews Tobacco Harm Reduction Attacks in Runup to COP10Filter, 11 February 2024, accessed February 2024
  13. L.Stroud, The WHO Prioritizes Youth Who Don’t Smoke Over Adults Who DoFilter, 23 February 2024, accessed February 2024
  14. K. Sidhu, At Hostile COP10, Threats to Tobacco Harm Reduction Postponed, Filter, 20 February 2024, accessed April 2024
  15. Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, Form 990-PF, 2020 Tax Return, 17 May 2021, accessed May 2021
  16. abB. Stockton, E. Baumgaertner, R. Lindsay, Paid protesters, free lunches and backroom chats: Inside the menthol lobbying machine, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 25 April 2022, accessed September 2022
  17. abAltria, 2021 Recipients of Charitable Contributions from the Altria Family of Companies, accessed March 2022
  18. Global Forum on Nicotine, 2022 Programme, website, undated, accessed July 2022