“Addiction At Any Cost” is ostensibly an attack on tobacco giant Philip Morris International (PMI) but, like many in tobacco control, it ignores the systems put in place to prevent PMI from exerting influence over FSFW to pursue an attack based on slurs and innuendo.
“PMI wants to create a new epidemic of IQOS users while simultaneously selling as many cigarettes as possible. Despite what the company says, IQOS is not just for existing smokers; the way in which the product is marketed appeals more widely,” said the report’s lead author, Dr. Karen Evans-Reeves from the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, a partner in STOP. “IQOS is not about helping people quit smoking. In fact, PMI admits IQOS is not a cessation product. When you look at the data, it’s plain to see that IQOS is a cynical ploy by PMI to addict a new generation, irrespective of the harm they may cause. Profit is the true objective.”
The report refers to FSFW as “PMI’s Failing Foundation”. It says:
- An analysis of PMI’s Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, which claims to be an independent scientific body, shows that despite almost $1 billion in pledged funding, the Foundation is failing
- PMI remains its sole funder, despite the Foundation’s claims that it would seek additional funders
- Credible researchers have rejected its grants and others have returned funds when alerted to the Foundation’s links to PMI
- The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health cancelled a special issue proposed by the Foundation when the publisher realized the Foundation was funded by a tobacco company
- At least eight senior executives have left in the last two years, including four board members, its chief operating officer and chief health, science and technology officers.
- Events to engage the public health community and government were cancelled in Turkey and Thailand due to low registration, government action and civil society protest.
- Hundreds of global health experts called for governments to reject collaboration with the Foundation.
The FSFW might find it easier to obtain additional funding were tobacco controllers able to stop attacking it with slurs. These people have worked diligently to dissuade researchers from accepting FSFW’s badly needed grants. The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health should have had the spine to recognise what FSFW can offer in promoting harm reduction, but they too ignored the checks and balances in place and wilted to zealotry and heckling.
Professor Anna Gilmore said: “PMI’s future depends on showing its products are safe. Unfortunately, it has an appalling track record of setting up supposedly independent research organizations to fund favourable science. We must therefore remain highly sceptical of both PMI and its Foundation and any research they produce. Researchers are rightly rejecting its advances.”
Gilmore ignores the fact that nobody (including PMI) says vaping or Heat-Not-Burn is “safe”. Telling people to ignore research sponsored by FSFW, rather than critique the actual science, is a luddite attitude to harm reduction and exhibits a puerile approach to the problem of tobacco-related disease.