COREISS

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Background

The Centre for Research Excellence: Indigenous Sovereignty and Smoking (COREISS) is a private registered company based in Auckland, New Zealand.

It was established in June 2018 by Dr. Marewa Glover, with a grant from the tobacco industry-funded Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW).[1] FSFW calls itself an independent scientific organisation aimed at “accelerating the end of smoking,” but is solely funded by tobacco giant Philip Morris International (PMI).

COREISS is one of multiple “Centres of Excellence” set up with Foundation funding as hubs for research on tobacco control and harm reduction.

The stated aim of COREISS is to focus on reducing tobacco-related harms among indigenous peoples worldwide.[2][3]

People

COREISS Director, Dr Marewa Glover, describes herself as “an indigenous behavioral scientist who has worked on reducing harms from smoking for over 25 years.”[4] She is a former chair of End Smoking NZ (2009-18), a charitable trust that lobbies for tobacco harm reduction, and was a Professor of Public Health at Massey University (2016-2018) and Director of the Centre for Tobacco Control Research at the University of Auckland (2006-2015).

She has a PhD in Behavioural Sciences and is the Tobacco Section Editor of the Harm Reduction Journal[5][6] Glover is also a scientific advisor to the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO), organising committee member of the Global Forum on Nicotine[7] and associate member of the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA).[8]

As of February 2020, the COREISS website “About Us” section listed only Glover, with no details of any other staff, directors, partners or advisory board.[2] NZ Companies Office records show that COREISS Limited was previously named Amoss Limited until February 2018. It was first registered as a New Zealand company in July 2005 by Glover and Stephen Piner. The company is categorised as “Scientific research institution operation - except university”.[9] Piner’s LinkedIn profile states that he became Director of Operations at COREISS in July 2018.[10]

Set Up with Tobacco Industry-Linked Funding

On 30 May 2018, COREISS was awarded a US$978,449 grant from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW), whose purpose is to “fund scientific research designed to eliminate the use of smoked tobacco around the globe”.[11] The Foundation’s tax documents reveal that COREISS was its third largest grantee in 2018.[1] FSFW President, Derek Yach, described the opening of the NZ Centre of Excellence with Dr Glover, “a world-renowned tobacco control expert”, as a personal highlight in the Foundation’s 2019 annual report.[12][13][14] The Foundation’s 2017 launch video also contains footage and interviews from New Zealand,[15] including with Glover in her former role as chair of End Smoking NZ.[16]

COREISS’s website does not disclose the amount of the grant awarded by the Foundation, only a disclaimer that it receives funds from it and that it is “fully independent”.[17] FSFW’s tax documents show that US$489,225 of a total US$978,449 was awarded to COREISS in the 2018 calendar year.[1]

  • For more information on other Foundation for a Smoke-Free World grant recipients, see our page on its grantees.

In August 2019, according to press reports, New Zealand’s Ministry of Health warned district health boards that it preferred them not to work with COREISS[18] - a move Glover has described as blacklisting[19] and part of a wider harassment campaign akin to a “public lynching”.[20]

Also in 2019, it was reported that Glover had put in a funding bid for “millions more” from the FSFW to fund COREISS.[21]

Critics: “Co-optation of Indigenous Culture”

Marewa Glover has been criticised by the NGO, Hāpai Te Hauora Māori Public Health and a group of Indigenous public health experts from New Zealand, Canada, the US and Australia for indirectly accepting tobacco industry money.[22]

Writing in Tobacco Control, the indigenous health leaders argued that the tobacco industry would “use the Foundation to meet its agenda which is in stark contrast to the health and well-being agendas of Indigenous peoples” and that “co-optation of Indigenous culture” must be resisted. They added that the tobacco industry has a history of exploiting and appropriating Indigenous culture to sell and promote commercial tobacco. They also asserted that the debate around next generation products and their potential to improve Indigenous health should be led by Indigenous peoples and not be influenced by organisations linked to the tobacco industry. They contended:

“By serving the interests of PMI, the Foundation is complicit in commercial tobacco use and the associated absolute and disproportionate tobacco-related harms to Indigenous peoples.”[22]

Hāpai Te Hauora, which holds New Zealand’s national tobacco control contract, told Radio NZ that while it respects Glover’s expertise on Maori smoking cessation, it had no choice but to cut ties to COREISS due to the Centre’s source of funding.[18]

Glover has strongly refuted accusations by some critics that COREISS has acted as “a mouthpiece” for Philip Morris International (PMI) and the tobacco industry. In September 2019, she consulted lawyers over comments made by the Public Health Association (PHA) of New Zealand’s chief executive,[23] which resulted in a formal unreserved apology and retraction being issued by PHA.[24] Glover remains resolute that her Centre is neither compromised,[23] nor influenced by its Foundation funding, arguing that the bylaws of its benefactor as “an independent nonprofit organisation” ensures it has “complete autonomy” from PMI.[25]

Furthermore, the COREISS website states:

“The research produced by the Centre of Research Excellence: Indigenous Sovereignty & Smoking, the contents, selection and presentation of facts, as well as any opinions expressed on the Centre’s website, or in its presentations and publications are the sole responsibility of the Centre and its authors and under no circumstances shall be regarded as reflecting the position of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, Inc.”[17]

COREISS Reports and Government Submissions 2019

In its first 20 months of operation between May 2018 and December 2019, COREISS published two research papers, one illustrated essay booklet, one flyer and four submissions to government inquiries related to smoking and e-cigarettes in New Zealand, the Philippines and Greenland.

Its submission to the Philippines Government in December 2019 argued that electronic nicotine devices “should not be taxed initially, or a tax relative to risk could be considered” and that “[it] is important that the acceptability of the products is not undermined by unnecessary restrictions on the nicotine levels or the flavours.”[26]

Quantifying Māori Spend on Tobacco, Alcohol and Gambling

The first FSFW-funded COREISS output was an externally-commissioned report, published in May 2019 and entitled “Quantifying Māori spend on tobacco, alcohol & gambling”.[27] This report summarised the tobacco, alcohol and gambling tax burden of the Māori population. Glover has long argued that tobacco tax increases unfairly target Māori and Pasifika groups,[28][29] “take money from the poor”,[28] do not work,[30] and push smokers to the illicit market.[28]

New Zealand Health Select Committee Hearing: Argued Against Ban on Smoking and Vaping in Cars

In August 2019, Glover presented COREISS’s submission “Do We Really Need Another Law? The cost to New Zealand of banning smoking in cars”[31] to a Health Select Committee hearing on a proposed Smoke Free Environments (Prohibiting Smoking in Motor Vehicles Carry Children) Amendment Bill.

In her oral evidence, Glover described the Bill as “extreme”, “punitive” and “discriminatory”, given the much higher smoking rates of Maori and Pasifika groups (32.7% and 23.2% compared with the national average of 12.5% regular adult smokers).[32][33]

Banning smoking in cars, she told the committee, would do nothing to protect children and “was a waste of time”; money could be better spent on cessation programmes to help parents stop smoking. She argued that exposure to secondhand smoke was “far greater in the home” compared with “fleeting” time spent in cars.[32][34] She also dismissed one MP’s question about toxins building up in enclosed spaces such as cars:

“That’s junk science that the toxins are first of all harmful and that they build up. As I said there’s no evidence that nicotine or the particles in cigarette smoke, the residue delivers any ill health to anybody… obviously it’s damaging for the person who’s smoking. But ah, it’s, as I say in my submission, the dose makes the poison. Children are not in the car all day long every day.”[35]

Glover added that “what gets missed is that our bodies heal, so even if we are temporarily exposed, we heal from that".[23] Her statement was criticised by some Committee members, one of whom described it “outrageous”, as well as other public health experts at the hearing.[32] According to Glover:

“the scientific studies have not proven that exposure to cigarette smoke in the car causes disease, it’s not a causal relationship and most of the studies it’s actually exposure in the home that the association is with. And in tobacco control we have extrapolated that out to exposure in the car, so the evidence is not there for that. So I really urge you to… basically I say, “show me the evidence”.[35]

Glover told the Committee that: “In tobacco control over 35 years, we have exaggerated the effects deliberately to scare people off smoking."[32]

Glover’s views are at odds with other public health officials. “Children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke due to their smaller lungs, higher respiratory rate and immature immune systems," NZ Associate Health Minister, Jenny Salesa had said when she first announced the Bill in February 2019, arguing it was important to safeguard their health, with Māori and Pasifika children most vulnerable to secondhand smoke in vehicles.[34] In October 2019, Salesa dismissed Glover’s controversial stance against the ban “as her opinion”, reiterating that the Government was standing up for children’s rights.[23]

“Vaping Has No Health Effects on Bystanders”

Glover also told the Health Select Committee that she believed that vaping in cars poses no risk:[32]

“Vaping has no health effects on bystanders, so it’s a totally different animal. You know, the smoke is, there’s gas, there’s actual particles and vapour is, uh it evaporates very quickly, it’s not carrying any of those particles at all that are toxic. And there is minimal nicotine residue. The whole third-hand, fourth-hand, fifth-hand smoke thing is made up to scare people off smoking, there is no associated harm with nicotine residue on things. So I think you know if we really want people to stop smoking in cars, why ban those alternatives? ...”[35]

Glover’s comments also run contrary to the WHO’s January 2020 advisory on e-cigarette second-hand emissions, as well as other scientific evidence. In January 2020, WHO stated that “ENDS expose non-smokers and bystanders to nicotine and other harmful chemicals. …The aerosols in ENDS typically contain toxic substances, including glycol which is used to make antifreeze. ENDS pose risks to users and non-users.”[36][37][38][39][40][41]

Non-Disclosure

Following the hearing, Glover’s non-disclosure of COREISS’s tobacco industry-linked funding was also criticised by some commentators.[42][43]

Published Booklet Written by Academic with Ties to the Tobacco Industry

In October 2019, COREISS produced a short booklet titled, “Preventing risk of smoking-related disease among adults versus preventing initiation to vaping: Simplistic lifeboat thinking not applicable”. It featured a cartoon drawn by Glover and an essay by harm reduction advocate Carl V Philips, whose research has been funded by the tobacco industry, included a USD$1.5million grant from the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company and further funding from British American Tobacco. In their booklet’s disclosure statement, Glover and Philips wrote that “…neither PMI nor the Foundation exercises any influence over the presentation of our findings, and they will not be aware of this paper until it is published”.[25]

Submission to Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland) Government: “Adopt a Harm Reduction Approach”

In December 2019, COREISS published a submission to Greenland’s Ministry of Health draft parliamentary Act on tobacco products and non-smoking environments (the Smoking Act).[44]

Written by Marewa Glover and also posted on the Foundation’s website, COREISS’s submission recommended that the Government of Greenland (the Naalakkersuisut) adopt a harm reduction approach to reduce the extremely high (60%) tobacco smoking prevalence among Greenland’s indigenous Kalaallit Nunaat people.

Noting the government’s public health programme (Inuuneritta) goal to cut smoking to 40% of the adult population, Glover argued “this figure could quickly be achieved by allowing smokers in Kalaallit Nunaat access to any or all of the greatly risk-reduced alternatives to smoking that now exist”. She gave examples of how smokeless tobacco products, such as snus, have led to dramatically reduced rates that make traditional tobacco control measure rates look “shockingly slow”.[44]

She added that Greenland “has the chance to leapfrog over the inefficient tobacco control methods of the past by adopting a tobacco harm reduction approach today”.[44] Greenland, which is a self-governing autonomous Danish dependent territory, is not a party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), a global treaty that aims to reduce the demand and supply of tobacco. [45]

Similar to COREISS’s December 2019 submission to the Philippines Government (see below), its Greenland submission included a section on “Understanding the anti-vaping hysteria” which referred to “anti-vaping lobbyists” as deliberately exaggerating teenage vaping prevalence. Glover stated that “Kalaallit Nunaat specific research should be encouraged to identify locally effective approaches”.[44]

The COREISS Greenland submission made no mention of whether Glover consulted local indigenous groups, researchers or politicians, which would be consistent with COREISS’s pledge in 2018 “that indigenous worldviews will underpin the research methods”.[46] Authors cited in the submission include harm reduction advocates Carl V Phillips and Harry Shapiro (the latter is a staff member of Knowledge Action Change) as well as the Foundation’s Derek Yach.[44][47]

Submission to Philippines Government: “No Unnecessary Restrictions on ENDS and HTPs”

In December 2019, COREISS published a submission to a Philippines Congressional Joint Committee inquiry into Regulating Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems and Heated Tobacco Products. This submission heralded harm reduction as the solution to helping the country achieve its stated goal of reducing smoking prevalence to 15% by 2022. In her submission to the House of Representatives committees on Trade and Health, Glover wrote:

“I strongly recommend that the Philippines Government adopt a harm reduction approach to tobacco smoking. Relative risk regulation that encourages people who cannot quit smoking to switch to risk-reduced alternatives such as vaping or using tobacco heating devices or oral nicotine pouches could cause smoking rates to plummet.”[48]

Arguing that “regulation rather than a ban is needed”, Glover appealed to the Government not to ban flavours or impose any “unnecessary restrictions” on nicotine levels.[48]

Despite the COREISS pledge “that indigenous worldviews will underpin the research”,[46] its Philippines submission[48] did not contain references to the country’s numerous indigenous communities that make up nearly 12% of the Philippines population, among them some of the poorest and most disadvantaged sectors of society.[49]

Global Forum on Nicotine: Committee Member and Speaker

Glover sits on the Programme Organising committee of the Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN), an annual conference held in Warsaw, Poland since 2014. The forum is run by London-based Knowledge Action Change Limited (KAC), which is headed by Professor Gerry Stimson.

At the 2018 GFN conference, Glover received an Outstanding Advocate award from the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organizations (INNCO), another FSFW grantee. She is also listed as “scientific adviser” to INNCO.[7]

Speaker at Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum 2018-2019

Marewa Glover, in her capacity as Director of COREISS, was a speaker at the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum. This annual tobacco industry-funded networking forum was held in August 2018 in London and in September 2019 in Washington. She was listed as both as a keynote speaker and panellist at the latter event.[50][51]

Speaker at Asia Harm Reduction Forums

Since setting up COREISS, Glover has been a speaker at two Asia Harm Reduction Forum events, alongside several other international speakers and panellists who have also received Foundation for a Smoke-Free World funding.[52] The first Forum was in the Philippines capital Manila in November 2018, which was held at the same time as legislators were drawing up laws on e-cigarettes.[53] Glover spoke about “The New Zealand Approach to Tobacco Harm Reduction”. [52] She also spoke at the 2019 event held in Seoul in August. [54]

Relevant Links

TobaccoTactics Resources

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, Form 990-PF, 2018 Tax Return, 13 May 2019, accessed May 2019
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