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The surprise announcement by the former head of the WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative, Derek Yach, that he would head a newly-established organisation called the ‘Foundation for a Smoke-free World’1 to ‘accelerate the end of smoking’ was met with gut-punched disappointment by those who have worked for decades to achieve that goal. Unmoved by a soft-focus video featuring Yach looking pensively off into the distance from a high-level balcony while smokers at ground level stubbed out Marlboros and discussed how hard it was to quit, leading tobacco control organisations were shocked to hear that the new organisation was funded with a $1 billion, twelve-year commitment from tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI). PMI, which has been working for decades to rebrand itself as a ‘socially responsible’ company while continuing to promote sales of its top-branded Marlboro cigarettes and oppose policies that would genuinely reduce their use, clearly believes this investment will further its ‘harm reduction’ agenda, led by its new heat-not-burn product, IQOS. But don’t worry, the Foundation assures everyone that “PMI and the tobacco industry are precluded from having any influence over how the Foundation spends its funds or focuses its activities.’2
Except that is what a broad range of industry front groups, sometimes headed by respected and even well-intentioned …
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