WASHINGTON, D.C. – Philip Morris International – the world’s largest non-governmental cigarette manufacturer – has announced that it is establishing a Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, with funding of $80 million per year over the next 12 years.
Philip Morris has a long history of deceiving the public and doing whatever it takes to sell cigarettes. This is not the first time Philip Morris has announced that it is funding “independent” research, nor is it the first time it has claimed to support “independent” researchers. Each of its past efforts have been nothing more than a smokescreen to divert attention from its marketing practices, the harm its products cause and the strong scientific consensus that already existed – both about the harm of its products and the scientifically proven ways to reduce tobacco use. There is no reason to believe that this announcement is any different.
Today, we know how to reduce tobacco use. The scientific evidence is strong and conclusive. The problem is that companies like Philip Morris continue to oppose the adoption of these policies and programs.
Philip Morris’ claimed commitment to a “smoke-free world” cannot be taken seriously so long as it continues to aggressively market cigarettes and fight proven policies to reduce smoking and save lives around the world. Until Philip Morris ceases these harmful activities, its claims should be seen as yet another public relations stunt aimed at repairing the company’s image and not a serious effort to reduce the death and disease caused by its products. The amount Philip Morris is spending on its new foundation is a drop in the bucket compared to the $75 billion in revenues and over $17 billion in profits the company reported in 2016, most of it from selling cigarettes.
If Philip Morris is truly committed to a smoke-free future, it should immediately take two steps: 1) Actively support the policies to reduce cigarette smoking that are endorsed by the public health community and an international public health treaty, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC); and 2) set an example for the tobacco industry by stopping all marketing of cigarettes.