CLIFFORD E. DOUGLAS - Foundation for a Smoke-Free World


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President and Chief Executive Officer

Cliff Douglas is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. The Foundation is a nonprofit, independent grantmaking organization dedicated to ending the illness and death caused by smoking, which remains the leading preventable cause of death around the world. Its mission is to accelerate the decline in smoking and the harm it causes.

Douglas is a long-time expert on a wide range of tobacco-related policy, regulatory and legal issues, ranging from government regulation of tobacco and nicotine products to more effectively addressing the widening health and economic disparities in the smoking population. As director of the University of Michigan Tobacco Research Network, he led the Smoke-Free Environments Law Project, a 24-year-old statewide project that provides information, consultation and advice for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, local units of government, tobacco control advocates, and communities regarding evidence-based policies and practices to protect the public from the harmful effects of tobacco.

He also served as a co-investigator for the University of Michigan’s Center for the Assessment of Tobacco Regulations, one of the Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science funded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

He served as the American Cancer Society’s National Vice President for Tobacco Control and as the founding Director of ACS’s Center for Tobacco Control from 2015 to 2020. There, he led the development of the organization’s new, progressive scientific and policy position related to eliminating the epidemic of combustible tobacco use in the U.S.; guided a national campaign to educate parents about vaping by youth; led the iconic Great American Smokeout and the updating of that annual event to emphasize the importance of addressing the urgent needs of disadvantaged populations; co-founded and co-chaired the National Partnership on Behavioral Health and Tobacco Use; co-founded the $6 million Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative, which provided technical assistance and grants to colleges and universities to help them become tobacco-free; and supported educational efforts to strengthen public understanding of the relationship between tobacco use and COVID-19.

During the Obama administration, he served as the consulting tobacco control policy advisor for the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health and the U.S. Surgeon General and was a lead author and editor of a landmark report titled “Ending the Tobacco Epidemic: A Tobacco Control Strategic Action Plan” for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, released by the U.S. Secretary of Health.

He also served as Special Counsel on Tobacco Issues for Congressman Martin T. Meehan in the U.S. House of Representatives and coordinated the Congressional Task Force on Tobacco and Health, recruiting dozens of members of the House as members to support the passage of federal tobacco control measures.

Early in his career, he coordinated the successful national advocacy campaign to prohibit smoking on all commercial airline flights in the U.S. and contributed to its global expansion through the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization. He also served as an attorney and advisor in the U.S. state attorney general actions that resulted in the Master Settlement Agreement and represented smokers and their families in several landmark lawsuits against cigarette manufacturers.

His work in the global arena has included serving on the legal team that successfully defended the nation of Uruguay in an international trade action challenging that nation’s progressive tobacco control laws. He also assisted the government of Thailand in successfully opposing an international trade action that sought to force the opening of its marketplace to international cigarette marketing practices that threatened to increase smoking among Thai youth, women and the overall population.

His early work with the United States Congress and the executive branch, his representation of plaintiffs in litigation against the tobacco industry, and his recruitment of prominent cigarette company whistleblowers to come forward publicly are chronicled in the book “Civil Warriors: The Legal Siege on the Tobacco Industry” by investigative reporter Dan Zegart.

Most recently, Douglas produced and hosted a new online course from the University of Michigan, “Tobacco & Nicotine: Public Health, Science, Policy, and Law,” which is available on Coursera and explores the history of smoking in the U.S., the health effects of tobacco and other nicotine products, global tobacco issues, the tobacco industry’s role in the epidemic, the ever-evolving policy landscape, and emerging efforts around the world related to alternative nicotine products as a complement to traditional tobacco control measures.

Douglas holds a JD from the University of Michigan Law School, and a BA in English from the University of Michigan.

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