Foundation for a Smoke-Free World Sued

Photo: Michal Kalasek |

A former employee of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World claims she was fired for raising concerns about the organization’s ties to the tobacco industry, reports Bloomberg Law.

Lourdes Liz, who worked at the Foundation as social media director from February 2018 until February 2020, says she was terminated after objecting to activities “designed to increase the profits of and to do the bidding of Philip Morris International and Altria Group.”

In a lawsuit filed on Jan. 13 in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Liz maintains that the group’s close ties to the tobacco industry violate its status as an independent nonprofit organization.

The Foundation, which has received millions of dollars in funding from PMI, has met fierce opposition from health groups. Shortly after its creation in 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it would not interact with it, citing a fundamental conflict of interest between the tobacco industry and public health.

The Foundation is led by Derek Yach, an anti-smoking crusader who, while working at the WHO, was the primary architect of that agency’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.