Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

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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”.[1][2] Its tax return 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 $19.2 million in “contributions approved for future payment” (to be accounted for in the future). The return also shows $7.6 million of spending on “communications.”[3]

It was established in September 2017 and formally launched at the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum 2017, a tobacco-industry funded event.[4][5]

The Foundation is funded by tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI).[1]

There is detailed background information on the Foundation's staff, grants, how it frames itself and counter arguments in the Tobacco Tactics Resources section. You can also download a briefing document prepared by Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP) which analyses the Foundation's 2018 tax return.

Main Staff at the Foundation

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


  • 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.[6]
  • Jim Lutzweiler is Vice President of Agriculture and Livelihoods at the Foundation, and former Senior Director of Global Public Policy at PepsiCo.[6]
  • David Janazzo is Vice President of Industry Transformation and Finance.[6]
  • Ehsan Latif is the Foundation’s Vice President for Grant Management and Development (previously Program Director Health and Smoking Control).[6] Latif formerly worked for the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.[7]
  • 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.[6]
  • Nicole Bradley is the Foundation’s Vice President for Communications (formerly Director for Communications). Bradley spent six years at Pepsi managing their media relations.[6]
  • Heather Majewski is the Foundation’s Vice President for Shared Initatives (formally ‘Global Initiatives’ and prior to that’ Global Services’.[6]

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”.[8]

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”.[9] Although a large sum of money, US$80 million represents only 0.1% of PMI’s revenues and 1% of the company’s profits.[10] 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.[11][12]

The day after the Foundation’s launch, film director Aaron Biebert (whose production company, Attention Era, was commissioned to launch the Foundation[13][14]) 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”.[15] This claim was swiftly rebutted by both the Gates Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies.[16][17] The Foundation has asserted that it is “seeking and expects to receive funding from other sources as well”,[18] but as of January 2019 no other funders than PMI were listed on the Foundation’s website.[19] The Foundation’s tax return for 2018, filed 13 May 2019, also listed no other funders than PMI[3]

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”.[18] In a BMJ blog post[20] Yach reasserted that the Foundation operates independently from PMI, citing The Foundation’s ‘Certificate of Incorporation’,[21] ‘Bylaws’[22] and ‘Pledge Agreement’ between the tobacco company and the Foundation[23] 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”.[22] However, two independent analyses of the constitutive documents suggest that this is not the case.[24][25] One, for example, noted that the governing documents have “multiple loopholes” adding that the Foundation “cannot be regarded as independent”. [25]

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 Foundation for a Smoke-Free World: How it Frames Itself.[24]

Failed Attempts to Engage with Global Public Health

In January 2019, a letter [26] 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 FSFW[27] 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”. [27]

At the same time, the Foundation’s sole funder, PMI, published a statement[28] 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”.

On 23rd January 2019, the day before the FSFW’s open letter to the WHO was published, PMI posted statementCite error: Invalid <ref> tag; invalid names, e.g. too many announcing the publication of a PMI report[29] 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”. [29]

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 | other experts in public health[30][31]

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.[30]

"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”.[32] 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”.[33] 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).[34][35] 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.[34] 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.[35]

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”.[36] 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.[37] “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.”[38]

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:

  • Ogilvy Group: from 2017 Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, has provided PR services to the Foundation.[39][40] Initially worth US$ 542,747,[39] the contract quickly grew to more than $5 million in 2018.[40]
  • Mercury: the FSFW 2018 tax return shows that the Foundation paid Mercury US$664,616 for PR services rendered in 2018.[41] 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.[42]
  • Feinstein Kean Healthcare: Tom Langford of PR consultancy Feinstein Kean Healthcare (FHK) was the spokesperson for the Foundation in September 2017.[43] FKH is part of the Ogilvy Group[44], 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.[45] 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”[46].
  • Kantar Public: Is part of Kantar, the consultancy and research group that conducted the Foundation’s 2018 ‘State of Smoking Survey’.[2] 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.[47][48] 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.[49] In the 1980s, the firm advised Philip Morris USA how to optimise its cigarette sales and marketing processes. [50][51] In the 1990s, McKinsey worked with British American Tobacco.[52]
  • 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[53][54][55] In 2018, the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World stated that this same law firm had offered them ‘guidance and input’.[1]

Commissioning Evidence

  • In May 2019 the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World released information on who it had given grants to as part of its 2018 tax return.[3] For full details visit our page on the grantees.
  • In September 2018, the Foundation issued a request for proposals for an annual ‘Index of Industry Actions to End Smoking in this Generation’.[56] 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 publication of its preliminary Health, Science and Technology (HST) Agenda.[57] 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.’[58] 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.[59] For more information on KAC see the page on its director Gerry Stimson. 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 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.[60]
  • In March 2018 the Foundation published its first research output, a survey called ‘the State of Smoking’[61] 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”.[62]
  • In November 2017, the Foundation’s Board gave staff approval to make grants up to £2M up to March 2018 without Board approval.[46] 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”.[63]

Other Projects

  • In August 2018, the Foundation announced the launch of a Centre of Research Excellence on Indigenous Sovereignty and Smoking in New Zealand,[64] headed by public health researcher Dr. Marewa Glover. This centre is one a number proposed by the Foundation in different countries.[3] 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”.[65]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
  • In March 2018, the Foundation launched its Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI) in Malawi, headed by Jim Lutzweiler.[66] 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.”[67]
  • 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”.[68][69] The 2019 focus of the program will be on India, Malawi and China.[70] 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.[71]

Speaking at Conferences & Events

Examples of 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.[72][73][74]
  • 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.[75] 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.[76]
  • Food Prize October 2017: FSFW hosted a session at the World Food Prize (an event that Yach has spoken at previously[77]) 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.”[78]
  • Food and Drug Law Institute Annual Conference October 2017: Yach gave a keynote address on ‘designing the future of tobacco control’.[79][80]
  • 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’.[81] (Professor Etter noted he consulted Yach in preparation for his presentation)[82]

TobaccoTactics Resources

TCRG Research Blog

Relevant Links


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  2. 2.0 2.1 D. Yach, The State of Smoking 2018 Global survey findings and insights, Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, Press Conference Presentation, 19 March 2018, accessed May 2018
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, Form 990-PF, 2018 Tax Return, 13 May 2019, accessed May 2019 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "tax" defined multiple times with different content
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  5. Global Tobacco & Nicotine Forum 2017 New York City, USA, September 12-14, 2017, accessed September 2017
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, [1], undated, accessed August 2019
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  8. D. Yach, An open letter on the Foundation’s independence and governance, Foundation for a Smoke-Free World Blog, 11 January 2018, accessed February 2018
  9. D. Meyer, Philip Morris Pledges $1 Billion to Anti-Smoking Foundation, Fortune, 13 September 2017, accessed September 2017
  10. S. Glantz, Derek Yach’s journey to the Dark Side is now complete, UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, 13 September 2017, accessed September 2017
  11. L. Edmondson, Ferrari renews Philip Morris partnership, ESPN, 4 September 2017, accessed September 2017
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  16. K. Henning, Email to subscribers of FCA mailing list dated 15 September 2017 15:57:09, subject: Re: [fca_all] Fw: Derek Yach’s new foundation to support harm reduction research
  17. C. Lewis, Email to subscribers of FCA mailing list dated 15 September 2017 02:24, subject Re: [fca_all] Fw: Derek Yach’s new foundation to support harm reduction research
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