The Foundation Hits Back

Posted 13th May 2021 by Dave Cross
The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW) has hit back at the slew of recent attacks and said that progress in tobacco control demands open science and respectful debate, not the boycotts and bans it is subjected to. In particular, the FSFW lays into a recent paper from the University of Bath published in Tobacco Control journal.

The paper, “Paying lip service to publication ethics: scientific publishing practices and the Foundation for Smoke-Free World” (1), was written by Bloomberg funded activists at the Tobacco Control Research Group (TCRG), University of Bath.

Litigation forced the dissolution of three major tobacco industry-funded organisations because of their egregious role in spreading scientific misinformation. Yet in 2017, a new scientific organisation—the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW)—was launched, funded entirely by tobacco corporation Philip Morris International (PMI).”

Bloomberg’s organisations have refused to debate science, preferring to constantly smear the FSFW instead without paying any regard to the checks and balances ensuring the Foundation’s independence.

The FSFW (2) responded: “Outraged at the Foundation’s mere existence, the authors call to suppress our work. At the [FSFW], we reserve our outrage for the millions of lives lost due to tobacco each year. Though smoking rates continue to decline in some regions, they remain unacceptably high in low- and middle-income countries, and among marginalized communities. Where TCRG could devote its time to strategies that curb these disturbing trends, it instead chooses to question the integrity of groups, like the Foundation, that engage in this difficult work.”

The Foundation has been assiduously working to achieve a smoke-free world through the promotion of science while, at every turn, Bloomberg’s puppets have sought to delegitimise all who are remotely connected to it.

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Referring to the recent publication of his synopsized topics in tobacco control, Dr Derek Yach wrote: “Rather than engage with any of these urgent matters—for example, barriers to cessation treatment, the need for tobacco control solutions in the Global South, or the troubling rates of tobacco-related deaths among women—TCRG attempts to argue that the entire issue doesn’t warrant publication.”

Continuing, he says: “While the authors raise grievances over particular publication protocols, the bulk of their argument seems to derive from the view that Foundation staff and grantees have no right to be published anywhere, ever.

“Troublingly, TCRG joins a larger cohort of detractors seeking to silence, and even harass, scholars associated with harm reduction research. Brilliant scientists have been depicted as shills for Big Tobacco, merely because they recognize the potential of THR to reduce global deaths from smoking. In addition to generating unacceptable personal attacks, these boycotts and bans impede much-needed scientific progress and technological innovation. Though ideological blinders prevent groups like TCRG from recognizing these innovations, hard data points to an uncomfortable truth: as mainstream public health efforts stagnate, industry scientists are rapidly developing solutions that could reduce death and disease from tobacco.”

If the ideologues routinely refuse to engage at a scientific level, maybe it’s time for journals to stop publishing anything funded by Michael Bloomberg?

References:

  1. Paying lip service to publication ethics: scientific publishing practices and the Foundation for Smoke-Free World - https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/early/2021/05/04/tobaccocontrol-2020-056003
  2. The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World - https://www.smokefreeworld.org/

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 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
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