Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

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The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World describes itself as “an independent, non-profit organization”1 that was established and is “operated free from the control or influence of any third party”, which “makes grants and supports medical, agricultural, and scientific research to end smoking and its health effects and to address the impact of reduced worldwide demand for tobacco”.23

It was established in September 2017 and formally launched at the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum 2017, a tobacco-industry funded event.45

The FSFW’s 2019 tax return filed on 15 May 2020 shows that more than two years after its creation, the Foundation remains solely funded by Philip Morris International (PMI).6 Furthermore, the 2019 tax return analysis reveals that the grants and contributions during the year 2019 are not primarily focused on funding scientific research but rather appear to be in line with the Foundation´s public relations and advocacy strategies. Only one in six of the grantees listed in this tax return (seven out of a total of 45) appear to be based within academic institutions.67 For more information on the new grantees and issues around the lack of transparency of the FSFW on its award granting, go to Foundation for a Smoke-Free World Grantees. For a briefing on the top 10 takeaways from the Foundation’s 2019 tax return see exposetobacco.org.

Its 2018 tax return, which was filed on 13 May 2019, declares that in 2018 it spent US$6.46 million on “grants and contributions paid during the year”. It lists an extra US$19.2 million in “contributions approved for future payment” (to be accounted for in the future). The return also shows US$7.6 million of spending on “communications.”8

The Foundation is funded by tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI).1 In June 2020, the FSFW website’s page on funding changed from “is seeking and expects to receive funding from other sources as well” to that it “may seek funding from other sources” (see below).

There is detailed background information on the Foundation’s staff, grants, how it frames itself and counter arguments in the Tobacco Tactics Resources section.

Main Staff at the Foundation

In September 2020, FSFW updated its website to reflect that it has lost 14 staff members, which represented 38% of its total staff the previous week.9

For a list of all the current and previous staff at the Foundation and their industry connections visit Foundation for a Smoke-Free World People

Management

  • Derek Yach leads the Foundation and is the former Head of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Tobacco Free Initiative. He was also Senior Vice President of Global Health and Agriculture Policy at PepsiCo.9
  • David Janazzo is Executive Vice President of Operations and Finance and Chief Financial Officer of FSFW (previously Chief Financial Officer and Vice President, Industry Transformation). Janazzo’s background is in finance and has formerly worked for Merrill Lynch and in telecommunications.9
  • Carolyn “C.B.” Blanckmeister is the Foundation’s Chief Health Science Technology Officer. Blanckmeister previously worked for Pfizer and GSK and is trained as an immunologist.9
  • Heidi Goldstein is the Foundation’s General Counsel.9
  • Amy Curry is the Foundation’s Chief of Staff.9
  • Ehsan Latif is the Foundation’s Vice President for Grant Management and Development (previously Program Director Health and Smoking Control). Latif formerly worked for the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.10
  • Candida Nakhumwa is Country Director, Malawi for FSFW. She is responsible for managing strategic partnerships in Malawi’s agricultural sector. Nakhumwa previously worked for the Farmers Union of Malawi and the National Smallholder Farmers Association. Her profile was moved from “Staff” to “Executive Team” in September 2020.9
  • Brian Erkkila is the Foundation’s Vice President for Health, Science and Technology. Prior to that he spent seven years at the US Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products.9
  • Nicole Bradley is the Foundation’s Vice President for Communications (formerly Director for Communications). Bradley spent six years at Pepsi managing their media relations.9

The Board has no known direct tobacco industry links. In an open letter, Yach stated that the appointed Board of Directors are “subject to stringent conflicts of interest policy. No Board member can have ties to tobacco companies. The Directors will receive reimbursement for their expenses and a modest honorarium for their service”.11

Relationship with the Tobacco Industry

Funded by Philip Morris International but Claims Independence

The Foundation was established with funding from PMI. The tobacco company agreed to contribute US$80 million annually for the next 12 years starting from 2018, with specific contributions depending on the Foundation’s “requirements and operations”.12

Although a large sum of money, US$80 million represents only 0.1% of PMI’s revenues and 1% of the company’s profits.13 It is an insignificant sum compared to PMI’s annual spending on its longstanding sponsorship deal with Formula One racing giant Ferrari, which was quietly renewed in September 2017, and has previously been estimated to cost PMI in the region of US$160 million annually.1415

The day after the Foundation’s launch, film director Aaron Biebert (whose production company, Attention Era, was commissioned to launch the Foundation1617) claimed that “PMI will not be the only donor the Foundation. [Yach] will have other big donations coming from traditional sources like the Gates Foundation or Bloomberg Charities, but decided to get going now despite the potential reputational risk he faces”.18 This claim was swiftly rebutted by both the Gates Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies.1920 Prior to June 2020, the Foundation asserted that it was “seeking and expects to receive funding from other sources as well”.21 In June 2020, the language on the Foundation website’s “Funding” page changed to “The Foundation may seek funding from other sources as well”.22 The 2019 tax return confirms that FSFW remains wholly funded by PMI.6

The Foundation says that ‘independence’ and ‘transparency’ are its core values, and that the Foundation’s bylaws prevent PMI and other tobacco companies “from having any influence over how the Foundation spends its funds or focuses its activities”.23 In a BMJ blog post24 Yach reasserted that the Foundation operates independently from PMI, citing The Foundation’s ‘Certificate of Incorporation’,25 ‘Bylaws’26 and ‘Pledge Agreement’ between the tobacco company and the Foundation27 as evidence of this independence. The Foundation itself said it would operate “in a manner that ensures the Corporation’s freedom and independence from the influence of any commercial entity”. However, two independent analyses of the constitutive documents suggest that this is not the case.2829

One, for example, noted that the governing documents have “multiple loopholes” adding that the Foundation “cannot be regarded as independent”.

The McCabe Centre critique of these constitutive documents argued that there were several ways in which PMI would be able to influence the Foundation’s research agenda and practice. You can see an extensive analysis using this critique by visiting : How it Frames Itself.

Failed Attempts to Engage with Global Public Health

In January 2019, a letter30 signed by a total of 279 global health organisations and public health leaders was sent to the Director General and the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO). The letter urged the WHO to reject any affiliation with the Foundation.

This was in response to a letter from FSFW31 to the WHO’s Executive Board, published on 24th January 2019 within which Derek Yach argued for the “aligning…of…our goals to complement and support the WHO and the FCTC”. The Foundation’s letter to the WHO Executive Board talks of an “unprecedented opportunity to give global tobacco control new energy and a new path” which requires “the ability to seize opportunities as we strive to end smoking together”.31

At the same time, the Foundation’s sole funder, PMI, published a statement32 of their own in January 2019 to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. This statement, entitled ‘Davos 2019 – Time to Take Action’ argued that “anti-tobacco lobbies” and the tobacco industry needed to work collaboratively, calling this “a once in a lifetime opportunity” and writing that “we must seize it – and seize it together”.32

On 23rd January 2019, the day before the FSFW’s open letter to the WHO was published, PMI posted statement33 announcing the publication of a PMI report34 entitled ‘Public health – much harder than rocket science’. The report concludes that a “collaborative approach” to global health issues, one which includes corporations, is “possible and needed”.

Visit Foundation for a Smoke-Free World: How it Frames Itself for an analysis of FSFW’s previous claims of support for the WHO FCTC.

Calls to reject funding from, and indeed any kind of involvement with, the Foundation have also previously come from many sources, including the WHO themselves:

World Health Organization (WHO), The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Secretariat, The International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), The World Heart Federation, Deans from the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, Environmental Rights Action and Friends of the Earth Nigeria (who have asked the University of Nigeria Nsukku not to work with FSFW), Polish Ministry of Health (sent a letter to all Polish university medical schools urging them not to accept any funds from FSFW), Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and other experts in public health.3536

Critics have specifically pointed out that PMI continues to actively oppose tobacco control policies aimed at reducing tobacco use and promotes cigarettes to children in Africa and Asia.35

Funding Scientists with Tobacco Industry Links

The Foundation has funded researchers with tobacco industry links, such as Riccardo Polosa, who has been previously funded by PMI, Jed Rose, who has previously been funded by Philip Morris and Neil McKeganey, who is a grant recipient of the Centre for Substance Use Research (CSUR) which is in turn funded by PMI, BAT, Fontem Ventures (a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco), and JUUL Labs (which is majority owned by Altria).37

Organisations Cut Ties with the Foundation

Several organisations who have received funds from the Foundation have decided to cut short or discontinue these links due to its ties to PMI. In 2019, BRAC Bangladesh (an NGO) announced that it would be returning the funding it had received from the Foundation in 2018.38 The University of Cape Town also announced that it would not accept additional funding from the Foundation due to pressure from the university’s faculty of health sciences staff.39 Oglivy, the public relations consultancy which was contracted by the Foundation in 2017/2018 announced in it no longer worked with the Foundation, in part “to avoid any conflict with its health clients”.40

Difficulty in Publishing its Science

The Foundation has encountered difficulty in getting its own science published, despite Derek Yach, being on the review committees of several notable global public health journals.9 The Foundation sought to publish a special issue of a journal titled “15 years after the Framework Convention on Tobacco control’s Adoption: Time for Greater Urgency and Focus” in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.41 However, once the journal’s managing editors were made aware of the Foundation’s tobacco industry ties in October 2019, the special issue was withdrawn.37

Beginning in May 2020, FSFW published a “special issue” of articles in the journal Drugs and Alcohol Today. The articles in this issue are all authored or co-authored by FSFW grantees or employees and are critical of the efficacy of WHO FCTC. Most articles recommend tobacco harm reduction.42

The journal is edited by Axel Klein.43 Klein is a grantee of FSFW, through his consultancy A.C.K. Consulting.44 A.C.K. received US$100,000 from FSFW in 2018.45 Sudhanshu Patwardhan was described as a “guest editor” of the issue.46 Patwardhan is also a FSFW grantee through his company, the Centre for Health Research and Education (CHRE). See our page on CHRE for more details.

Alignment with PMI

Although the Foundation wants to be seen as a body that is entirely separate from its funder, its actions and affiliations indicate otherwise.

Strategy Alignment

On multiple occasions, both the Foundation and its funder PMI have appeared to synchronise their global and in-country public relations and lobbying activities.37

Global Synchronization

  • Announcement of funding for Euromonitor: The Foundation and PMI Impact, an anti-illicit tobacco initiative also solely funded by PMI, announced funding for market research company Euromonitor within one day of each other.47
  • Use of “Unsmoke” branding: The same branding associated with PMI’s “Unsmoke” campaign was used by the Foundation in a promotional video on World No Tobacco Day 2019.48
  • Statements on the need for collaboration: In January 2019, both PMI and the Foundation published statements to international organisations advocating the need for collaboration between tobacco control and the tobacco industry. These statements used strikingly similar wording3132
  • Funding of the same media outlet: Both PMI and the Foundation were listed as funders of the Influence Foundation, owner of the online harm reduction magazine, Filter, in 2019.49
  • Responses to the Eighth Session of the Conference of Parties to the WHO FCTC (COP8) in Geneva: Both PMI and the Foundation, through its grantee Knowledge-Action-Change, released publications to coincide with COP8. PMI published a position statement advocating tobacco harm reduction policy interventions and consultation between governments and commercial producers of “emerging” tobacco and nicotine products.50 The Foundation used the event to launch its “No Fire, No Smoke” report at a side event to the main COP summit.51

In-Country Synchronization

  • New Zealand: In 2019, the head of the Foundation-funded Centre for Research Excellence: Indigenous Sovereignty & Smoking (COREISS), Marewa Glover, said that higher tobacco taxes in New Zealand would punish Māori and argued that “the compassionate thing to do would be to free up access to risk-reduced alternatives such as vaping, snus and heat-not-burn products”.52 Following this statement, Philip Morris New Zealand has offered discounted next generation products to the Māori population.53
  • Lobbying for weaker regulation of next generation products in Hong Kong: In April 2019, as the Hong Kong government was considering initiating a ban on next generation products, both PMI54 and Foundation-funded Knowledge-Action-Change submitted evidence arguing against a potential ban.55

“Less as a Conflict of Interest than a Confluence of Interest”

In September 2017, Yach told UK newspaper The Guardian that “I have been working with PMI to establish a foundation to accelerate the end of smoking and tackle the consequences for tobacco farmers”.56 Yach continued: “From the start, the intent has been to create an independent foundation that meets the very highest standards of legal and ethical norms”.56

In January 2018, Yach gave an interview with the South African Broadcasting Corporation about the Foundation. When asked if PMI funding of the FSFW represented a conflict of interest, Yach replied: “I see it less as a conflict of interest than a confluence of interest in terms of trying to lower the public health impact (of tobacco products), which is really devastating at the moment”.57

However, claims of a confluence of interest between PMI and public health goals are undermined by the tobacco company’s behaviour in other arenas. In July 2017, only one month before the establishment of the Foundation, news agency Reuters published internal PMI documents demonstrating the tobacco company’s attempts to subvert provisions in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).5859 Among other things, it showed the company had lobbied national governments to send non-health delegates to weaken FCTC provisions which usually require consensus to be adopted. The documents also showed that PMI was violating India’s anti-smoking regulations by promoting cigarettes in colourful adverts and handing out free cigarettes at nightclubs and bars frequented by young people.59

An open letter to PMI dated 14 September 2017 and signed by 123 health groups urged the company, if it were serious about ‘designing a smoke-free future’, to “immediately cease the production, marketing and sale of cigarettes”.60 PMI responded by an open letter claiming that if it were to stop selling cigarettes, smokers would not quit smoking but switch to its competitors’ brands.61 “Indeed, our paramount business strategy is to replace cigarettes with less-harmful, smoke-free alternatives. That’s what we call a smoke-free future…”. A smoke-free future that is not based on smoking cessation, but on smokers switching from cigarettes to another tobacco product.

The WHO stated in 2017 that “research and advocacy funded by tobacco companies and their front groups cannot be accepted at face value. When it comes to the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, there are a number of clear conflicts of interest involved with a tobacco company funding a purported health foundation, particularly if it promotes sale of tobacco and other products found in that company’s brand portfolio. WHO will not partner with the Foundation. Governments should not partner with the Foundation and the public health community should follow this lead.”62

Used Third-Party Organisations with Long-Standing Links to Tobacco Industry

Many of the organisations the Foundation has worked with so far have long-standing links to the tobacco industry. For instance:

  • APCO: Foundation board meeting minutes from May 2019 reveal that APCO Worldwide, a PR firm, was engaged by the Foundation to establish its presence in China.63
  • Ogilvy Group: From 2017 Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, has provided PR services to the Foundation.6465 Initially worth US$ 542,747,64 the contract quickly grew to more than $5 million in 2018.65
  • Mercury: The FSFW 2018 tax return shows that the Foundation paid Mercury US$664,616 for PR services rendered in 2018.66 Maria Alvarado, Vice President of Mercury’s office in Austin, was listed as the main contact on the FSFW press release for World No Smoking Day 2018.67
  • Feinstein Kean Healthcare: Tom Langford of PR consultancy Feinstein Kean Healthcare (FHK) was the spokesperson for the Foundation in September 2017.68 FKH is part of the Ogilvy Group69, a large PR firm which has had long-standing links with the tobacco industry, including running advertising and PR campaigns for the tobacco industry from the 1950s.70 In the Foundation’s inaugural meeting of the board of directors in November 2017, it was stated that Ogilvy FHK would be responsible for the Foundation’s “website launch, media outreach, stakeholder engagement and the global poll development and execution”.71
  • Kantar Public: Is part of Kantar, the consultancy and research group that conducted the Foundation’s 2018 ‘State of Smoking Survey’. The group has regularly worked for the tobacco industry, and is also linked to the tobacco industry through its parent company WPP group.
  • McKinsey: The Foundation employed management consultants McKinsey in organising an October 2017 stakeholder event in London, despite the management consultancy being implicated in a 2017 corruption scandal in South Africa.7273 McKinsey has also helped tobacco companies with business planning going as far back as the 1950s, when McKinsey was advising Philip Morris on its research program.74 In the 1980s, the firm advised Philip Morris USA how to optimise its cigarette sales and marketing processes.7576 In the 1990s, McKinsey worked with British American Tobacco.77
  • Baker and Hostetler LLP: In 2015, law firm Baker and Hostetler LLP represented tobacco companies Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, Liggett and Lorillard in arbitration over proposed adjustments to the payments from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement787980 In 2018, the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World stated that this same law firm had offered them ‘guidance and input’.
  • Ernst and Young: Auditors6 Ernst and Young have tobacco links stretching back years, mainly with British American Tobacco, and have advised on lobbying as well as providing reports which support industry policies in key areas.  Ernst and Young not only audits the Foundation, a subsidiary is also a grantee.
  • Ruder Finn: In September 2020, Ruder Finn Asia conducted outreach to institutions including the Centres for Disease Control to promote FSFW’s Tobacco Transformation Index.81

Other Contractors

In addition to using companies with established tobacco-industry links, the Foundation has, according to its tax returns,82 contracted other firms:

MarketKonnect, a subsidiary of APCO, was paid US$1,137,992 in 2019 for consulting services but little has been revealed about the exact nature of this work. Signals Analytics was paid US$2,130,000 in 2019 to develop ways of monitoring information around harm reduction. It was also asked to look at three specific language groups: English, Japanese and Mandarin.

A-Connect provided unspecified management consultancy work in 2018 worth US$610,508 while Cross My Heart Productions, a California media company, was employed the same year for US$770,073 to produce videos.83

Commissioning Evidence

The Foundation funds work through three main streams, or “core pillars”: Health, Science and Technology (HST); Agriculture and Livelihoods; and Industry Transformation.84 Recipients have included International Network of Nicotine Consumers (INNCO), Knowledge Action Change and several “Centres of Excellence”, located globally. For a full list of third-party grant recipients, visit our page on the Foundation’s grantees.

The Foundation has also produced its own reports and working papers, which can be found on its website.

Reports

A full list of the Foundation’s published reports can be found on its website here.

2020

  • “Smoky Horizons: Tobacco and Empire in Asia, 1850-2000” by FSFW grantee Asia Public History Foundation examines the history of colonialism and tobacco growing in Asia in the 19th and 20th centuries.85
  • “Phasing Out Combustible Cigarettes” advocates for tobacco harm reduction to be a primary goal of tobacco control and warns against “misinformation” on NGPs. It was authored by Derek Yach.85
  • “Contradictions and Conflicts” by FSFW grantee Daniel Malan was launched as part of the lead up to the Tobacco Transformation Index. It outlines how state ownership of tobacco companies creates a “conflict of interest” with public health policymaking, and advocates for tobacco harm reduction.85
  • “Dubrovnik Consultation Summary” summarised the findings of the “2020 Dubrovnik Consultation”, which was due to take place in Dubrovnik, Croatia in mid-2020, but was postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This report draws on “expert contributions” submitted on the taxation of NGPs, called “tobacco harm reduction products” in the report. Its foreword is authored by Derek Yach, Ayda Yurelki and Patricia Kovacevic, a former employee of PMI, Lorillard and Nicopure.8687
  • “India Country Report” was released in July 2020 and concerns the healthcare implications, economy, regulation and use of tobacco products in India. Its foreword includes endorsements from Drs Pooja and Sudhanshu Patwardhan, directors of the UK-based grantee Centre for Health Research and Education.88
  • “Watching Briefs: Hungary” by FSFW employee Ayda Yurelki documents the “past, present and future of smoking in Hungary”.85
  • “COVID-19 State of Smoking Poll”: FSFW conducted an online poll in April 2020 Italy, India, South Africa, UK and the US (New York and California) to assess the impact of COVID on product use and smoking behaviours. Although it found “virtually no change in reported product consumption” and increased quit attentions and attempts, FSFW focussed on stockpiling behaviours of cigarette smokers.89
  • “Global Perceptions of Tobacco and Nicotine Products” was commissioned as a follow-up to the 2017 report. Nielsen, a FSFW grantee, conducted a survey in seven countries on demographic data, habits and perceptions of tobacco and NGP product users.85
  • “Insurer Perspectives on Smoking Risks” was conducted by Marsh & McLennan Advantage Insights and Oliver Wyman (both consultancies). This report argued that insurers needed to “rethink how they quantify and reduce smoking risks”. It recommended “potential solutions leveraging emerging technologies, products, and processes to address these barriers”.85 The Foundation’s focus on insurers here tallies with PMI’s efforts, through its subsidiary insurance group, Reviti, to connect with smokers and promote its next generation products through price and policy discounts.

2019

  • “Global Trends in Tobacco Production and Trade” was authored by Romita Shah, a Research Manager at the Foundation9; Dianna Bartone, a former Research Analyst at the Foundation90 and Richard Ferguson, Investment Advisor for the Foundation.91 It concerned the tobacco manufacture supply chain and emphasised the shift in tobacco production away from high-income and towards low- and middle-income countries. The report was intended to be the first in a series analysing trends in tobacco production and trade.85
  • The 2019 update to the “Global Trends in Nicotine” (2018) report highlighted the growth of the e-cigarette and heated tobacco sectors. It was authored by David Janazzo, the Foundation’s Chief Financial Officer.85

2018

  • “Business Transformation: An analysis of case studies relevant to achieving a smoke-free world” was prepared by Framework LLC for the Foundation. This report presented six cases of companies that have undertaken “significant business transformations” to demonstrate how corporate transformation can be successfully achieved. This aligned well with the stated goal of the Foundation to “foster discussion on the transformational possibilities of achieving a smoke-free world” – which itself echoes the stated goals of its funder.8592
  • “Global Trends in Nicotine” marked the first report solely authored by the Foundation. It was one of a series intended to lay the groundwork for the Foundation’s “Industry Transformation” stream, and thus the Tobacco Transformation Index. It mainly analysed companies involved in nicotine delivery device manufacture, their geographic focuses and quantifying their output.85
  • Knowledge-Action-Change, founded by Gerry Stimson, published “No Fire, No Smoke: The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction 2018”. The “No Fire, No Smoke” report, which was launched in Geneva to coincide with the eighth WHO FCTC Conference of the Parties (COP8), warned against “over-prescriptive regulation and control” in tobacco control.51
  • In August 2018, the Foundation published a report prepared by EY-Parthenon called “Smoking Cessation Products and Services: Global Landscape Analysis”. The report was widely criticised by the public health and tobacco control community as biased, for not adding anything new to science and for “providing market research for PMI.”93
  • In March 2018 the Foundation published its first research output, a survey called “The State of Smoking”94 by industry-linked Kantar. The survey focused on smoking prevalence rates across 13 different countries. Although ostensibly about understanding smoking in different countries, as the first step towards reducing smoking prevalence rates, it was criticised by experts in public health, who claimed that it worked as a tool with which to gauge the market for harm reduction products and provide “market research for PMI”.95

Working Papers

Intended to “provide preliminary and timely access to ongoing research being generated by, or closely relevant to, the Foundation’s work”, the Foundation’s “Working Paper Series” are a series of articles posted on the Foundation’s website. Papers published here are not subject to an academic journal level of peer review. Rather, they undergo “at least one double blind peer review by an external expert.”96 As of February 2020, the only working paper posted to the FSFW website is one funded through its own Agriculture and Livelihoods workstream:

  • FSFW Working Paper No. 1: “Rural Perspectives on Alternatives to Tobacco Farming and Environmental Degradation in Malawi”96

Initiatives

Below is a list of other Foundation initiatives and work projects. Although it does not attempt to be comprehensive, it does highlight the ways in which the Foundation has sought to orient itself as a legitimate funder and creator of independent research, and an expert on issues including tobacco control, agriculture and industry transformation. For more information on organisations that have received grants from the Foundation, visit our page on the grantees.

  • In September 2020, the Foundation released its Tobacco Transformation Index (TTI). Read more on our dedicated page on the TTI.
  • In 2019, the Foundation began publishing quarterly newsletters, first through its Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI) and later adding a Health, Science and Technology version.97
  • In September 2018, the Foundation issued a request for proposals for an annual ‘Index of Industry Actions to End Smoking in this Generation’.98 The Foundation stated that the index would “critically evaluate industry progress toward achieving a smoke-free world and assess actions taken to undermine that progress.” This announcement was made at the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum 2018. In March 2019, the Foundation announced that it had contracted Euromonitor, a market research organisation, and SustainAbility, a think tank and consultancy, to develop “the first ever Smoke-Free index” to monitor and assess the actions made by tobacco companies to change from traditional combustibles to alternative “smoke-free” products. This work was also the first commissioned in the Foundation’s “Industry Transformation” initiative, one of its core pillars through which it funds grants.99 However, the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) has published a Smoke-Free Index since 2016. SEATCA’s Smoke-Free Index was developed to assess the alliance of smoke-free policies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with the WHO FCTC. In July 2019, SEATCA posted an official complaint on its website with a statement from its Executive Director, Dr Ulysses Dorotheo to say that “[the Foundation’s] use and trademarking of the term “Smoke-Free Index” is misleading, potentially confusing, and tantamount to wrongful appropriation of SEATCA’s intellectual property”.100 Since November 2019, the Foundation has instead referred to its index as the “Tobacco Transformation Index” and released its first report in September 2020.101102
  • In August 2018, the Foundation announced the publication of its preliminary Health, Science and Technology (HST) Agenda.103 The Agenda outlined the Foundation’s research priorities including its focus on product development research in order to bring more ‘reduced risk’ products to market.
  • Also in August 2018, the Foundation announced the launch of a Centre of Research Excellence on Indigenous Sovereignty and Smoking (COREISS) in New Zealand,104 headed by public health researcher, Dr. Marewa Glover. This centre is one of a number proposed by the Foundation in different countries.8 The Foundation has stated that by funding these research centres it “aims to develop the next generation of leaders and institutions that will accelerate the end of smoking”.105 Two of the grantees receiving funds to set up ‘Centres of Excellence’, Riccardo Polosa and Neil McKeganey, have previous, direct financial links to PMI. Full details on the research centres, their purposes and the people involved can be found at Foundation for a Smoke-Free World Centres of Excellence.
  • Alongside the HST Agenda, the Foundation launched a request in August 2018 for proposals on research concerning ‘Biomarkers of Nicotine Product Use.’106 Here, the Foundation outlined a 3-year, nearly US$10 million plan to fund research on biomarkers of exposure to different types of tobacco products.
  • The Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) and Knowledge Action Change (KAC) launched the Tobacco Harm Reduction Scholarship programme in 2018, to fund research into tobacco harm reduction. This programme is sponsored by FSFW. The programme awarded 15 projects up to a value of $7,500 each.107 For more information on KAC and its scholarship programme see its dedicated page: Knowledge-Action-Change.
  • In May 2018, it was reported that the Foundation was “in talks” to work in collaboration with the International Centre for Biotechnology (a UNESCO Category II Centre) at the University of Nigeria Nsukka.108
  • In March 2018, the Foundation launched its Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI) in Malawi, headed by Jim Lutzweiler.109 In July 2018, it was announced that ATI would fund a US$10 million, 5-year project to set up a Center for Agricultural Transformation in Malawi to “contribute to the transformation of the agricultural sector and development of a knowledge economy in one of the world’s least developed countries.”110
  • In November 2017, the Foundation’s Board gave staff approval to make grants up to US$2 million up to March 2018 without Board approval.71 The Foundation received 60 proposals in response to their first Call of Interest for Projects, and the Foundation was “to convene with grant-making experts and the strongest grant candidates in February 2018”.111
  • Since 2017, the Foundation has funded The Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge (in collaboration with the Conrad Foundation), a program which invites high-school students (aged 13-18 years old) to “design 21st century solutions to re-purpose global farmland that is currently used for tobacco production, especially in African countries”.112113 The 2019 focus of the program was on India, Malawi and China.114 The Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath contacted the Conrad Foundation to seek clarification of the nature of its sponsorship agreement with the FSFW, but did not receive a reply.115 For the 2019-2020 round, the Conrad Foundation added a special category, called “Re-purpose Farmlands & Tobacco Crops”, another challenge especially funded by the Foundation.116 Registration for the 2020-21 Conrad Challenge opened 21 August 2020.117

Speaking at Conferences & Events

Examples of events at which the Foundation presented, or was scheduled to present:

  • In September 2020, a new event website called “15 Years Conference” was launched. It streamed a two day conference sponsored by FSFW on the FCTC and “the challenges and opportunities in tobacco control from the lenses of diversity, development and tobacco harm reduction”.46 Almost all speakers were FSFW grantees.118 The event sought to highlight the FSFW-authored special issue in the journal Drugs and Alcohol Today (DAT). The conference organising team included Axel Klein (ACK Consultants)44 and Sudhanshu Patwardhan (CHRE), both FSFW grantees.46 Klein, is also the Editor of DAT.43 The University of Kent’s logo appears at the bottom of the “15 Years” website, alongside Emerald Publishing (who publish DAT).46 Klein is listed as a member of the University of Kent Centre for Biocultural Diversity.119 The nature of affiliation of this event with the University of Kent is, however, unclear. Klein’s public LinkedIn profile does not refer to the University of Kent.120
  • Also in September 2020, FSFW hosted a booth at the virtual Global Forum on Tobacco and Nicotine (GTNF). This is the same event at which the Foundation was launched three years previously. During the event, FSFW launched its Tobacco Transformation Index, as well as a new website called “Understanding Nicotine” (https://www.understandingnicotine.org/).121 The website lacks any explicit reference to or branding for FSFW.
  • In November 2019, the Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI) hosted the second Agricultural Transformation Summit in Malawi.122
  • In November 2018, the Agricultural Transformation Initiative hosted the Agricultural Transformation Summit (ATS) in Malawi. The ATS was attended by Prince Kapondamgaga, CEO of Farmers Union of Malawi, a Foundation grantee, and Dr Alexander Bulirani, Controller of Agriculture Services, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, among others. The Foundation announced the launch of a Malawi-based Center of Excellence, the Center for Agricultural Transformation, at the event, as well as the opening of new funding and a scholarship fund endowed by the Foundation at Lilongwe University of Agriculture & Natural Events.123
  • In February 2018, the African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC) (whose self-stated aim is to ‘promote the role of business in development’) collaborated with FSFW, holding ‘consultative meetings’ in Malawi where stakeholders including government officials were due to meet with the Vice President of FSFW, Dyborn Chibonga, who also holds a role on the Board of Directors of AICC.124125126
  • The Brocher Foundation’s ‘Ethics of Global Population Health’ event: Yach was scheduled to speak at this five-day event hosted by the Brocher Foundation, from 28 May to 1 June 2018.127 The Brocher Foundation states the event accepted “no funds from the tobacco industry or from any organizations supported by it”. On 29 May 2018, Yach was no longer listed as speaker on the Brocher Foundation’s website.128
  • Food Prize October 2017: FSFW hosted a session at the World Food Prize (an event that Yach has spoken at previously129) called ‘An Exploration Into Food/Cash Crop Alternatives to Tobacco in Africa’. A website description of the event states that: “Foundation for a Smoke-Free World was founded in part to identify and promote alternate market-driven agricultural supply and value chains, as well as fundamental livelihood alternatives for current smallholder tobacco farmers in Africa. To be successful, this will require a new vision grounded in emerging science-based research, collaboration among corporate and civil society stakeholders based on the formation of new business relationships, change of market and political incentives, alignment of interest with the tobacco industry, and support of governments.”130
  • Food and Drug Law Institute Annual Conference October 2017: Yach gave a keynote address on ‘designing the future of tobacco control’.131132
  • E-Cigarette Summit November 2017: Yach participated in a discussion about FSFW during a session by Prof. Jean Francois Etter titled ‘The good, the bad and the ugly about the foundation for a smoke-free world’.133 (Professor Etter noted he consulted Yach in preparation for his presentation)134

TobaccoTactics Resources

TCRG Research Blog

Relevant Links

References

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