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Global Foundation Launches to Accelerate an End to Smoking

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With the goal of eliminating smoking worldwide, the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World formally launched today in New York City. The Foundation is founded and led by Dr. Derek Yach, a renowned anti-smoking crusader who, while at the World Health Organization (WHO), was the primary architect of the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The Foundation will build upon recent shifts in policy and science to fund research and support collaborative initiatives to accelerate progress in reducing harm and deaths from smoking worldwide.

“For decades, despite significant tobacco control initiatives, smoking has remained the world’s number one preventable cause of death. With more than one billion smokers, and one death every six seconds from smoking, there is an urgent need to accelerate progress and end this public health crisis,” said Dr. Yach, the Foundation’s founder and president-designate. “The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World will bring needed resources, expertise, fresh thinking, and a collaborative spirit to form partnerships, initiate dialogue, conduct research, and take actions to more rapidly rid the world of smoking and its negative health impacts.”

The Foundation has secured initial funding of approximately US$80 million annually over the next 12 years, beginning in 2018, from Philip Morris International (PMI). The Foundation is seeking and expects to receive funding from other sources as well. Importantly, the grant terms, bylaws, and non-profit status of the Foundation preclude PMI or other tobacco industry representatives from involvement in Foundation governance, or from having any influence over the Foundation’s funding decisions, strategy, or activities. The Foundation will have an independent research agenda, ownership of its data, freedom to publish, and strict protections against conflict of interest.

The Foundation’s ongoing activities and research priorities will be informed through a transparent public dialogue, and will be subject to the approval of an independent board of directors. Initial activities are expected to be focused in four areas of need:

  1. Support research into smoking harm reduction and build research capacity through academic centers of excellence
  2. Collaboratively build consensus around which interventions can best reduce harm and deaths from smoking and increase smoking cessation
  3. Measure and report on global progress towards smoking harm reduction
  4. Identify alternative crops and livelihoods for tobacco farmers as the global demand for tobacco declines

“The world needs to act with greater urgency and more creativity to cut the adult smoking rate and prevent cancer, heart disease and lung diseases,” said Dr. John Seffrin, professor of practice at Indiana University-Bloomington School of Public Health and past president of the Union for International Cancer Control. “The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World will bring new energy, needed resources and significant expertise to the fight. The Foundation will fund critical research to help eliminate gaps in science, and help the global community pick up the pace of progress in providing science-based solutions for the world’s one billion smokers, most of whom seek to quit cigarettes.”

The Foundation will also focus its efforts on understanding and helping to address disproportionate challenges and impacts associated with efforts to end smoking in developing countries. For example, the Foundation will work to help smallholder tobacco farmers shift to alternative crops.

“A decline in tobacco production creates an opportunity to solve food insecurity issues that exist in many parts of the world,” said Dyborn Chibonga, CEO of the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi. “I look forward to helping the Foundation partner with public and private entities to develop practical solutions to these pressing problems.”

“It is time for new thinking and open, collaborative approaches that speed us closer to our shared goal,” said Dr. Yach. “We’ll need a multitude of approaches – encompassing behavioral and biological science, economics, policy, technology, pharmacology, epidemiology, and agricultural expertise – to develop the right approaches for different regions and cultures. If we work together, I’m confident we can end smoking throughout the world.”

For more information about the Foundation and its activities, or to review its bylaws and certificate of incorporation, please visit www.smoke-freeworld.org.

Editor’s note: Dr. Yach will formally announce the Foundation and outline its goals at 9:30 am EDT today, September 13, during a speech to the Global Tobacco & Nicotine Forum 2017 at the InterContinental New York Barclay in New York City. Dr. Yach will be preceded by Mitch Zeller, director of the US FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, who will speak at 8:45 am EDT about the need for a new approach to smoking cessation. Members of the media are invited to attend.

About the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating global efforts to reduce deaths and harm from smoking, with the ultimate goal of eliminating smoking worldwide. The Foundation also supports populations who are disproportionately burdened by a rapid transition away from smoking, with an initial focus on helping tobacco farmers in the developing world. For more information about the Foundation, please visit www.smoke-freeworld.org.

Contact information

for The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World
Tom Langford, 617-761-6775
tom.langford@fkhealth.com

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