In September 2017, one of the major tobacco companies – maker of Marlboro, Philip Morris International Inc (PMI), made yet another bold announcement saying that it would allocate $1 billion to set up a foundation that will fight smoking, and then dispense a further $80 million yearly towards the project for 12 years.
At the time, many anti-smoking experts were skeptical that the aim of the move was nothing but an effort to ensure the visibility and success of Philip Morris’ harm reduction product, iQOS. On the other hand renowned anti-tobacco activist Derek Yach, who had played a main role in the enactment of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2005, had accepted the position of President of the Foundation.
An inclusive approach
At the time Yach had assured his peers that he had not “gone over to the dark side,” adding that his relationship with PMI is based on opportunity not trust. “I am not naïve 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.”
Meanwhile last year, Yach announced he was leaving the foundation, however he still believes that tobacco innovation is the way forward. Tobacco Reporter has recently devoted an entire issue on the topic of innovation, and as part the issue they interviewed the former Foundation for a Smoke-Free World president.