Foundation opposed

| September 18, 2017

Canadian health organizations have responded to the announcement that Philip Morris International has pledged $1 billion to the newly-launched Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (https://www.smoke-freeworld.org/) by calling on the Canadian government immediately to restore public funding for tobacco control and to ensure that the costs of reducing tobacco use are passed on to the tobacco industry.

‘In this recent ploy, Philip Morris is using the same bag of tricks it invented in the 1950s, to create its own research bodies in order to manipulate the research environment and delay effective measures to reduce smoking,’ said Neil Collishaw, research director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada in a statement issued by the Coalition québécoise pour le contrôle du tabac.

‘We risk repeating the tragedy of past decades unless the government moves quickly to ensure that the new challenges of e-cigarettes and so-called reduced risk products are addressed by reliable and uncontaminated research.’

Melodie Tilson, director of policy for the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association, was quoted as saying that a year had passed since ‘we provided Health Canada with proposals for ways to protect public health from tobacco industry interference in research and policy’.

‘Since that time, we have seen no action on any of our 20 recommendations, nor any indication that these are a priority of Health Canada.

‘Recent events and the industry’s abuse of science as a front for tobacco marketing have increased our concerns that Canada is vulnerable to tobacco industry interference.’

Meanwhile, Cynthia Callard, executive director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, said the most recent intrusion of the tobacco industry into research funding was all the more dangerous in the context of massive cuts to tobacco control funding by the previous government, and the failure of the new government to restore resources for independent activities.

‘External policy research was abandoned by Health Canada in 2012,’ she was quoted as saying. ‘The failure of the new federal government to restore this important work has left little national-level capacity for independent response to industry-funded disinformation.’

And Flory Doucas, co-director and spokesperson for the Quebec Coalition on Tobacco Control said the federal government should apply the polluter-pay principle to public health by levying a regulatory charge on tobacco manufacturers. ‘We have previously made this recommendation as a way to require the industry to internalize some of the costs they impose on society.’

In the US, Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said Philip Morris had a long history of deceiving the public and doing whatever it took 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, he said in a statement.

‘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.’

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Category: Breaking News, Harm reduction

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