on Thursday, February 1, 2018 in Governance
The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World was established to address a major public health crisis and the world’s number one preventable cause of death: smoking. It was founded with the intent to bring needed resources, expertise, innovative thinking and a collaborative spirt to form partnerships, initiate dialogue, conduct research and take action more rapidly to rid the world of smoking and its harmful health impacts.
The Foundation is pleased by the response it has received from many in the public health, medicine and science communities who share our same sense of urgency to advance the science that could help millions of smokers reduce their risk of death and disease. But there is more work to be done. There are organizations who, rather than joining forces to tackle this major health crisis in a collaborative, productive spirit, are choosing to oppose the Foundation and its goal of helping smokers quit by advancing the science of tobacco control. This opposition runs counter to the goals of many of these institutions and their leading scientists: to advance public health and save the lives of millions through rigorous research and open science.
It is understandable that the funding arrangement and the history of industry-funded initiatives raises questions about whether the Foundation can operate independently and in the genuine interest of the public health. But I am certain it can, because stringent firewalls and legal requirements are in place to ensure it will.
The Foundation’s bylaws, certificate of incorporation and funding agreement are unprecedentedly rigid and establish the Foundation as a completely independent organization, akin to the Legacy Foundation (now Truth Initiative). PMI has absolutely no involvement, influence or control over the Foundation. In fact, it is legally prohibited from receiving any commercial benefit from the Foundation, and precluded from seeking any public relations or reputational benefit from its support for the Foundation.
Our research agenda is being developed by the public health community itself through a transparent and highly inclusive process. A three-week, widely publicized, public comment period on the Foundation’s research priorities recently concluded, and any and all who are interested in reducing death and disease from smoking were invited to participate. A similar public comment period will be initiated when the Foundation’s draft research agenda is released, and again, we encourage everyone, including the deans of academic institutions, to join in helping to shape the Foundation’s research agenda at that time, or anytime.
We encourage a productive dialogue and welcome the opportunity to meet and speak with those who have innovative ideas and similar goals, as well as those who may have questions and concerns.