Back in 2017, Philip Morris International announced they would provide $80 million to create an organization called the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. The program’s aims are to investigate tobacco harm-reduction and cessation strategies, monitoring industry activities, and to help tobacco farmers manage a decrease in the demand for tobacco.
While this may sound like the company is trying to turn over a new leaf, critics have seen similar programs in the past that had ulterior motives. For instance, scientists began to draw connections between tobacco smoke and lung cancer in the 1950s. The tobacco industry funded the Tobacco Industry Research Committee that gave funding to research that would contradict this new research that would ultimately cost them many customers. And in the 1990s, the industry launched the Center for Indoor Air Research that was dedicated to supporting research that claimed secondhand smoke was not a public health threat. The industry has shown repeatedly that they do not truly have public health interests at heart.
A statement released by the Harvard School of Public Health announced 17 universities from across North America, including IUPUI in Indianapolis, would be having nothing to do with the research funding provided by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. IU Bloomington released a statement earlier in February. These schools have stated that they may revisit this position when they’re able to learn more about the true motives of the Foundation. The past has shown that the interests of public health and the tobacco industry do not always align and hopefully IUPUI and IU Bloomington will make the best choice that will put the health of Hoosiers first.