Recipient: Department of Health
Re: Tobacco industry-funded organization is not a partner of public health
We, ASH Ireland, Council of the Irish Heart Foundation, a group that advocates for reduced tobacco use and associated disease, disability and death, join almost 300 organizations and experts from around the world in welcoming the World Health Organization (WHO)’s reiteration that “WHO will not partner with the Foundation (for a Smoke-Free World [FSFW]). Governments should not partner with the Foundation and the public health community should follow this lead.”
This reiteration was made in response to FSFW’s outreach to the WHO Executive Board recently. FSFW is an entity funded entirely by Philip Morris International (PMI), which has a “known history of funding research to advance its own vested interest.”
With a whopping $1-billion committed funding from PMI, FSFW is offering to fund research on agriculture, economics, and medical science, including so-called smoking alternatives such as electronic nicotine delivery systems (including IQOS, a device PMI aggressively markets).
As a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the Irish government is obliged to protect its public health and tobacco control policies against tobacco industry interference under Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC. Compliance with this treaty provision requires governments to, among others, reject contributions and partnerships from the tobacco industry and those furthering its interests like FSFW.
The tobacco industry is a peril to the health and welfare of the Irish public. The tobacco industry has a long-established record of blocking, delaying or diluting any kind of tobacco control policy that is aimed at reducing the prevalence of smoking in Ireland. ASH Ireland, Council of the Irish Heart Foundation will continue to advocate for increased tobacco taxation, a greater level of investment in smoking cessation support services and additional tobacco control measures.
Only this month, another powerful tobacco company, British American Tobacco (BAT), announced its latest global tobacco marketing strategy—promote its vaping products in Formula One. In the past, such a tie-up to promote cigarette brands had facilitated worldwide exposure of tobacco products to millions of people due to Formula One’s “considerable appeal among youth and young adults.”
It is in this new era of global marketing strategies by an industry whose addictive, lethal products kill millions of people that we are urging your office to be vigilant about preventing industry interference including the PMI-funded FSFW. We also urge your office to reject funding from any entity or research funded by the tobacco industry and those furthering its interests.
Likewise, we appeal to your office to send a letter to the Health Research Board and other similar research institutes and educational institutions to warn them that research results from the tobacco industry and those funded by it such as FSFW must be rejected or disregarded by the government.
We must not be complicit in any act that supports an industry determined to undo the public health gains that took years of hard work to achieve. We look forward to working with you on effective measures to protect health policies from tobacco industry interference.
Dr. Patrick Doorely,
Chairperson, ASH Ireland, Irish Heart Foundation