The Foundation has received a pledge of US$80 million annually for 12 years, beginning in 2018, from Philip Morris International (PMI). The Foundation is seeking and expects to receive funding from other sources as well.
We fully recognize the challenges associated with accepting any funding from the tobacco industry. We also acknowledge the sad irony that we exist to solve a global public health crisis that companies like PMI helped to create and then tried to cover up. Our founder, Dr. Yach, and others on staff have spent years fighting the tobacco industry and working to end smoking.
We would have much preferred to have a diverse set of other funders in place, with no industry funds from the start. But it would have taken years to build a base, and given the urgency of the problem – 1.1 billion smokers, 7 million dying each year, and a trajectory toward a billion deaths this century – we chose the path that gave us the best chance to move quickly and accepted the funding. But we did so only with extremely rigid protections against any involvement from PMI or anyone else from industry in our ongoing activities or operations.
Under the Foundation’s bylaws and pledge agreement, PMI and the tobacco industry are precluded from having any influence over how the Foundation spends its funds or focuses its activities. Independence and transparency are core principles of the Foundation, and we have set ourselves up from the beginning to operate in alignment with the most rigid principles available to avoid conflicts of interest.
The Foundation has, constituted in its bylaws, an independent research agenda, independent governance, and protection against conflict of interest. We request that grant recipients submit papers for peer review and, wherever possible, make their data and findings available to other researchers for review and consideration.