With the goal of eliminating smoking worldwide, the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World formally launched today in New York City. The Foundation is founded and led by Derek Yach, a renowned anti-smoking crusader who, while at the World Health Organization (WHO), was the primary architect of the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The Foundation will build upon recent shifts in policy and science to fund research and support collaborative initiatives to accelerate progress in reducing harm and deaths from smoking worldwide.
“For decades, despite significant tobacco control initiatives, smoking has remained the world’s number one preventable cause of death. With more than 1 billion smokers, and one death every six seconds from smoking, there is an urgent need to accelerate progress and end this public health crisis,” said Yach.
“The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World will bring needed resources, expertise, fresh thinking, and a collaborative spirit to form partnerships, initiate dialogue, conduct research, and take actions to more rapidly rid the world of smoking and its negative health impacts.”
The Foundation has secured initial funding of approximately $80 million annually over the next 12 years, beginning in 2018, from Philip Morris International (PMI). The Foundation is seeking and expects to receive funding from other sources as well. Importantly, the grant terms, bylaws, and non-profit status of the Foundation preclude PMI or other tobacco industry representatives from involvement in Foundation governance, or from having any influence over the Foundation’s funding decisions, strategy, or activities. The Foundation will have an independent research agenda, ownership of its data, freedom to publish, and strict protections against conflict of interest.
The Foundation’s ongoing activities and research priorities will be informed through a transparent public dialogue, and will be subject to the approval of an independent board of directors. Initial activities are expected to be focused in four areas of need:
- Support research into harm reduction and build research capacity through academic centers of excellence
- Collaboratively build consensus around which interventions can best reduce harm and deaths from smoking and increase smoking cessation
- Measure and report on global progress towards smoking harm reduction
- Identify alternative crops and livelihoods for tobacco farmers as the global demand for tobacco declines
“The world needs to act with greater urgency and more creativity to cut the adult smoking rate and prevent cancer, heart disease and lung diseases,” said John Seffrin, professor of practice at Indiana University-Bloomington School of Public Health and past president of the Union for International Cancer Control.
“The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World will bring new energy, needed resources and significant expertise to the fight. The Foundation will fund critical research to help eliminate gaps in science, and help the global community pick up the pace of progress in providing science-based solutions for the world’s one billion smokers, most of whom seek to quit cigarettes.”