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Indigenous peoples represent a diversity of cultures, perspectives and experiences that brings tremendous vibrancy to our world. Within this diversity, many Indigenous peoples share a common history of colonisation that continues today.1 We humbly acknowledge and respect that Indigenous people are diverse and constitute many nations, language groups and cultures. For the purposes of this commentary, Indigenous peoples include self-identified individuals and communities who have historical continuity with pre-colonial/pre-settler societies; are strongly linked to their natural environments; and often maintain their own distinct language(s), belief and social systems.
In 2017, Philip Morris International (PMI) provided US$1 billion funding for 12 years to establish the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (the Foundation). The stated purpose of the Foundation is to help achieve a ‘smoke free world’.2 According to the Foundation’s Strategic Plan, ‘ending smoking’ means eliminating use of the cigarette and other forms of combustible tobacco, while ensuring populations affected by this transformation are supported to find sustainable alternative activities and products.3 The research agenda includes a focus on an alternative nicotine product version of ‘harm reduction’. In August 2018, the Foundation provided a US$1 million grant that created a New Zealand-based Centre for Research Excellence: Indigenous Sovereignty and Smoking (the Centre) whose stated aim is to focus on reducing smoking-related harms among Indigenous peoples.4 5
Are the interests of Indigenous peoples truly being served by promoting the research agenda of a tobacco industry-funded Foundation? We do not think so, for several reasons. While improving help for people to cease commercial tobacco use does have potential to reduce the harm from smoked tobacco use, evidence suggests that individually targeted interventions that are essentially palliative and require a significant level of individual agency do not actually address the root cause of the problem.6 7 As such, they …
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