Last year, renowned Big Tobacco company Philip Morris International Inc (PMI), announced that it would fund a foundation that will fight smoking, and Dr. Derek Yach accepted the position of President.

Since being established, the Foundation For a Smoke-Free World has been under scrutiny for its link to PMI. Many have criticized Yach’s decision to accept a leading role within the organization, as they find it hard to believe that a company that still sells cigarettes actually has honest motifs.

In response to such concerns, Yach had said that he wants to assure his peers that he has not “gone over to the dark side,” adding that his relationship with PMI is based on opportunity not trust. “I am not naive enough to believe that Philip Morris is doing this because of the warm fuzzy feeling that they want to lower the death rates. No. What they want to do is have a product that is less risky and that makes them profits. That is the beginning and end of it.”

Calling for applicants

The Smoke-Free Index will be monitoring the tobacco industry’s progress towards achieving a smoke-free world.
Earlier this week, at the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum, Yach’s foundation announced that it is calling for proposals to develop and implement an annual Smoke-Free Index. The index will be analyzing the tobacco industry’s progress towards achieving a smoke-free world, and will complement efforts by the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).


The Foundation will seek to engage various stakeholders, including its critics, to successfully implement this Index and develop metrics that investors and lawmakers can understand and implement. To this effect it is looking for qualified research organizations to develop and implement the first Index.

Applicants will be evaluated based on a number of criteria, amongst which alignment with the Foundation’s mission, expertise, prior experience and global research capabilities. The foundation is also ensuring that none of the applicants are affiliated in any way with tobacco or e-cigarette companies.

Putting big tobacco’s leverage to good use

“Senior global health leaders have started to acknowledge the importance of tobacco industry transformation and what this means for how we engage in building solutions,” said Dr. Derek Yach, President of Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. “It is long overdue that tobacco companies use their leverage in the market to assert greater influence on each other to act far more decisively to end the use of combustible cigarettes globally.”

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