Professor David Wood
President, CEO, The World Heart Federation.
As you may have read, September 13th in New York City, a new global initiative was launched named the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. This foundation – whose leadership includes former WHO official Dr Derek Yach – is a tobacco industry-funded initiative, set to receive $80 million of annual funding over the next 12 years from Philip Morris International (PMI).
Alongside our colleagues at the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and the Union, The World Heart Federation condemns this initiative in the strongest possible terms as an attempt by the tobacco industry to interfere in, and subvert public policy.
Despite funding a foundation that claims its goal is to ‘eliminate smoking’, PMI continues to invest billions of dollars in marketing cigarettes worldwide, focusing many of these efforts in low- and middle-income countries to gain new customers.
Throughout previous decades, the tobacco industry – including PMI – has sought to maintain its profits by sowing misinformation among the public and blocking policies designed to protect public health. PMI’s recent failed attempt to sue the government of Uruguay for implementing anti-smoking legislation is just one recent example of these efforts.
Tobacco use remains the leading cause of premature CVD mortality, in some regions accounting for 25-30% of all cardiovascular deaths. According to current WHO projections, tobacco use will kill one billion people this century.
As the leading global advocacy organization bringing together the CVD community to lead heart-healthy lives, the World Heart Federation will continue to support all legitimate efforts to achieve a smoke-free world.
The best path to tackle this epidemic and achieve a smoke-free world is by implementing policies set out in the WHO FCTC – not by engaging with an industry that has shown repeatedly that it cannot be trusted to defend, let alone promote, public health.
We ask you to share information about this foundation with your colleagues and networks so that they can also be made aware of the false nature of this initiative.