The FDA acknowledged that it has accepted donations from two organisations, The Union and Bloomberg Initiative. Effectively, this means all of the funding comes from a single source – billionaire Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg Initiative was set up in 2006, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, seeking “to strengthen tobacco control efforts to reduce the toll of tobacco in low- and middle-income countries, by implementing proven tobacco control policies”. It is highly influential at dictating World Health Organization policy.
The Union co-manages the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use Grants Program in partnership with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
The FDA was asked at a recent virtual public consultation on proposals for the regulation of vaping if it had received any grants from foreign agencies. It acknowledged that it had, but only after being presented with evidence that countered its initial lies that it hadn’t.
Estrellita Suansing asked them: “Isn’t this a conflict of interest because you are funded by Bloomberg for the National Tobacco Control Program? Isn’t this a conflict of interest in coming up with this regulation?”
She added: “This grant might have pushed the policy directions for the regulations. This is important to us. They are giving grants to a government agency and that is a public document, a grant to the national government through a national agency so it’s a public document.”
The FDA’s official initially denied the body had received any funding – then when admitting it had added that an anonymous official had instructed him not to comment on the matter.
Deputy Speaker Deogracias Victor Savellano immediately requested a suspension of the consultation and filed for a congressional investigation.
Association Vapers India (AVI) said: “These international NGOs directly fund government departments and state tobacco control programs, which shouldn't be allowed as receiving money directly from private entities creates massive conflict.
“While India moves to tighten FCRA laws, these foreign NGOs and their local grantees have broken and continue to break laws - one of them, Burning Brain Society, is filing court cases with this money which violates FCRA norms. So entrenched is this cartel that when a government official questioned this foreign funding, he was promptly booted out and the bar on the errant NGO quickly lifted. Emboldened, these foreign NGOs are now proposing highly discriminatory policies like banning less harmful alternatives in developing nations but not in the West -- yes, in countries where harm prevention is vital as people have low access to healthcare.”
Global nicotine consumer umbrella group INNCO commented: “INNCO decries the use of undisclosed financial inducements and lobbying designed to pressurise foreign governments into enacting draconian [tobacco harm reduction] laws. Interventions on health policy driven by the unilateral convictions of a billionaire anti-THR zealot is corrupt and undemocratic!”