Foundation for a Smoke-Free World
The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World describes itself as “an independent, private foundation formed and 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”.
Visit Foundation for a Smoke-Free World: How it Frames Itself for a detailed analysis of the ways in which the Foundation portrays itself and those who oppose the Foundation, plus the counter evidence to these portrayals.
- 1 Main Staff at the Foundation
- 2 Relationship with the Tobacco Industry
- 3 Commissioning Evidence
- 4 Other Projects
- 5 Speaking at Conferences & Events
- 6 PMI’s Corporate Plan & Emergence of the Foundation for Smoke-Free World
- 7 Calls to Reject Involvement with the Foundation
- 8 TobaccoTactics Resources
- 9 TCRG Research Blog
- 10 Relevant Link
- 11 Notes
Main Staff at the Foundation
- 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.
- Tom Harding is the Foundation's Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Financial Officer.
- Farhad Riahi is the Foundation’s Chief Health, Science and Technology Officer. He was formerly a Partner at consultancy firm McKinsey.
- Ehsan Latif has been the Foundation's Program Director Health and Smoking Control since November 2017. Latif formerly worked for the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.
- Heather Majewski has been the Foundation's Vice President of Global Services since February 2018.
- Jim Lutzweiler is Vice President of Agriculture and Livelihoods at the Foundation, and former Senior Director of Global Public Policy at PepsiCo.
- Mica Wilson is Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the Foundation. Wilson was formerly Director of Global health at PepsiCo.
Board of Directors
- Dyborn Chibonga is Regional Head for Malawi and Mozambique at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Chibonga was also on the Board of Directors of the African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC) from 2010.
- Lisa Gable is a former US ambassador and Chairman Emeritus of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF), “a non-profit organization that aims to reduce obesity among children in the United States.” The Board of Directors of the HWCF includes executives from Nestle, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and General Mills.
- Martin Skancke is the founder and General Manager of Consulting, having previously worked for the Norwegian Ministry of Finance and consultancy firm McKinsey.
- Zoe Feldman is the Managing Director at Almanac Investments, who previously worked for PepsiCo for eight years.
- Andrew MacLeod is co-founder of Brexit Advisory Services, Visiting Professor at King’s College London in War and Security Studies, and Chair of Griffin Law.
- Pamela Parizek is the Managing Director at The Claro Group consultancy. Parizek has previously worked for KPMG, and Kroll Inc, a corporate investigations and risk consultancy firm.
- Paul Gardiner is the former Chairman of advertising firm Grey Group Australia and New Zealand, a WPP company. Since 2012 he runs his own business consulting company, specialising in “branding and marketing communications as well as greenfield start-ups in Australia and overseas”.
- Corinne Lathan is the founder and CEO of AnthroTronix Inc, an engineering research and development company that develops products “in digital health, wearable technology, robotics, and augmented reality”. 
The appointed Board has no known direct tobacco industry links. One Director has links to consultancy firm McKinsey, which has worked with Philip Morris and British American Tobacco (BAT) in the past. 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”.
Other Key Staff
Other key staff include those who have previously worked for PepsiCo alongside others who have worked for the WHO and Cancer Research UK (CRUK). Alastair Bradstock, previously Director of the International Tobacco Control Programme at CRUK, now works in the Health and Agriculture Team of the Foundation. Brian Erkkila, the Foundation's Director of Regulatory Science, joined the Foundation after seven years at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products.
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”. Although a large sum of money, US$80 million represents only 0.1% of PMI’s revenues and 1% of the company’s profits. 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.
The day after the Foundation’s launch, film director Aaron Biebert (whose production company, Attention Era, was commissioned to launch the Foundation) claimed that “PMI will not be the only donor [of the Foundation]. He [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”. This claim was swiftly rebutted by both the Gates Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies. The Foundation has asserted that it is “seeking and expects to receive funding from other sources as well”, but as of September 2018 no other funders than PMI were listed on the Foundation’s website.
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”. In a BMJ blog post Yach reasserted that the Foundation operates independently from PMI, citing The Foundation’s ‘Certificate of Incorporation’, ‘Bylaws’ and ‘Pledge Agreement’ between the tobacco company and the Foundation 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, a 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 (see Table 1).
Table 1: Quotes from the Foundation’s constitutive documents and the McCabe Centre's critique of the Foundation’s claims of independence from PMI
|Statement from Foundation||McCabe Centre critique|
| Certificate of Incorporation
The Foundation’s purpose is to support “research and projects regarding alternatives to cigarettes and other combustible products and how best to achieve a smoke-free world and advance the field of tobacco harm reduction”.
|This leaves no capacity for the Foundation to focus on other tobacco control measures such as “prevention of uptake or cessation of use without replacement by other products”|
| PMI Pledge Agreement with the Foundation
PMI are only obliged to continue to fund the Foundation if it has not “rescinded, amended or modified the Foundation’s Purpose” and has worked “exclusively in accordance with the Foundation’s purpose”
|“In other words, the cost of change – for example to focus on ending smoking other than through alternative products/harm reduction…would be the US960 million” pledged to the Foundation by PMI (or at least its outstanding balance). The pledged amount is therefore tied to the Foundation exclusively working on PMI-specified research priorities.|
“The Certificate of Incorporation and these Bylaws may be amended or repealed and new Certificate of Incorporation or Bylaws may be adopted upon the affirmative vote of two-thirds (⅔) of the Directors then serving entitled to vote.”
|i.e. It is possible for the Foundation to change its research priorities (at the cost of the significant funding pledged from PMI), but only if two-thirds of the Board of Directors backed a decision to do so. This board “will likely be a group inherently unrepresentative of the fields of tobacco control/public health,* as it is hard to imagine that it will include many (or any) individuals unsympathetic to the arrangement Yach has struck with Philip Morris.” A majority vote to change the Foundation’s research priorities is therefore unlikely.|
- Note to Table 1: On 1 February 2018 the Foundation announced its Board of Directors, which included individuals (e.g. Lisa Gable, Michael Sagner, and Zoe Feldman) promoting collaboration with industry.
"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”. 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”.
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”. 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). 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.
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”. 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. “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.”
Used Consultancies and Law Firms 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:
- Feinstein Kean Healthcare: Tom Langford of PR consultancy Feinstein Kean Healthcare (FHK) was the spokesperson for the Foundation in September 2017. FKH is part of the Ogilvy Group, 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. 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”.
- 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. 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. In the 1980s, the firm advised Philip Morris USA how to optimise its cigarette sales and marketing processes. In the 1990s, McKinsey worked with British American Tobacco.
- 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 Agreement In 2018, the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World stated that this same law firm had offered them ‘guidance and input’.
- In November 2017, the Foundation’s Board gave staff approval to make grants up to £2M up to March 2018 without Board approval. 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”.
- In March 2018 the Foundation published its first research output, a survey called ‘the State of Smoking’ 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 has been criticised by experts in public health, who have claimed that it actually works as a tool with which to gauge the market for harm reduction products and provide “market research for PMI”.
- 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.
- 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. For more detail see the page on Global Forum on Nicotine.
- In August 2018, the Foundation announced the publication of its preliminary Health, Science and Technology (HST) Agenda. 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.
- Alongside the HST Agenda, the Foundation launched a request for proposals on research concerning ‘Biomarkers of Nicotine Product Use.’ 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.
- In September 2018, the Foundation issued a further request for proposals, this time for an annual ‘Index of Industry Actions to End Smoking in this Generation’. The Foundation stated the index will “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, the annual tobacco industry conference.
- In August 2018, the Foundation announced the launch of a Centre of Research Excellence on Indigenous Sovereignty and Smoking in New Zealand, headed by public health researcher Dr. Marewa Glover. Glover has stated the Centre’s aims as identifying “indigenous knowledge and practices that can be facilitated to reduce the usually greater negative consequences of tobacco smoking experienced by indigenous peoples” as well as “making sure they have accurate information about new harm reduced alternatives to smoking…because…some indigenous peoples have lower levels of knowledge about electronic cigarettes.”
- In March 2018, the Foundation launched its Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI) in Malawi, headed by Jim Lutzweiler. 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.”
- 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”. The 2019 focus of the program will be on India, Malawi and China. 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.
Speaking at Conferences & Events
Examples of 2017/18 events at which the Foundation presented, or was scheduled to present:
- 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.
- 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. The Brocher Foundation states the event accepted “no funds from the tobacco industry or from any organizations supported by it”. On 29 May 29 2018, Yach was no longer listed as speaker on the Brocher Foundation’s website.
- Food Prize October 2017: FSFW hosted a session at the World Food Prize (an event that Yach has spoken at previously) 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.”
- Food and Drug Law Institute Annual Conference October 2017: Yach gave a keynote address on ‘designing the future of tobacco control’.
- 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’. (Professor Etter noted he consulted Yach in preparation for his presentation)
PMI’s Corporate Plan & Emergence of the Foundation for Smoke-Free World
Leaked PMI documents written in 2014 (and published by Reuters in 2018) give an insight into PMI’s long-term plans before the launch of the Foundation. Although on its website PMI talks about a smoke-free future, these internal documents reveal that as recently as 2014, PMI was maintaining its attempts to “maximise commercial opportunities and grow market share” of combustible cigarettes.
This contrast seems to illustrate serious conflicts between PMI’s public and private stances on the future of its business activities, something which only adds to the assessment of PMI’s funding of FSFW as a major conflict of interest. These leaked 2014 documents also go into detail about PMI’s perceived need to diversify into ‘RRPs’ because of concerns around the denormalization of cigarettes, and increased regulation of tobacco products.
PMI expressed the desire "to be part of the solution” and “to establish the legitimacy of tobacco companies to be part of the regulatory debate on RRPs”. One way in which PMI proposed to do this was through “third party coalition building” and utilisation of “an alliance of credible messengers”. Since then, PMI has pledged 1 billion dollars to fund the work of the Foundation for Smoke-Free World.
To read a more detailed article on PMI's 10 year plan and the subsequent establishment of the FSFW, see: Big Tobacco is funding the anti-smoking lobby but leaked documents reveal the real reason why.
Calls to Reject Involvement with the Foundation
Calls to reject funding from, and indeed any kind of involvement with, the Foundation have come from many sources including:
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 | other experts in public health
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.
- Foundation for a Smoke-Free World: How it Frames Itself
- Philip Morris International
- Front Groups
- Influencing Science
- Influencing Science: Funding Scientists
- In 2018, the Foundation funded the Scholarship Programme of the Global Forum on Nicotine
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