May 4, 2022

ACT NOW: Keep Big Tobacco out of public health!

Smoke rising against a black background

Since the start of the pandemic, the tobacco industry has tried to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to profit from it and deflect regulation of its core tobacco business, which continues to kill eight million people globally each year.

Now, one of the world’s largest tobacco corporations is leading the charge in developing a COVID-19 vaccine. Through its co-ownership of the Canadian pharmaceutical company Medicago Inc., Philip Morris International (PMI) is developing the Covifenz vaccine — and attempting to have this vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use worldwide.

Despite vocal objections from government officials and public health experts, the Canadian government has already approved the Covifenz vaccine for use in Canada. And when governments partner with Big Tobacco through these pharmaceutical ventures, what they’re really doing is turning a blind eye to the public health impact of the tobacco industry and the pandemic of eight million deaths annually that the industry is fueling.

The potential development and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine is nothing more than a strategy for PMI (through Medicago) to gain legitimacy, increase public trust, and advance its business interests. And it’s completely unacceptable that governments are partnering with Big Tobacco and helping to advance these ventures.

That’s why we’re urging the FDA to uphold decades of global tobacco control policy by denying the approval of the Covifenz vaccine. Take action and add your name to the petition today.

Big Tobacco’s trend of worming its way into the pharmaceutical industry is nothing new. And since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, tobacco corporations have ramped up efforts to advance pharmaceutical ventures by funding the development of vaccines and attempting to distribute them widely in several countries — despite objections from the world’s leading public health institutions and advocates.1

As the country’s primary agency for regulating tobacco products, the FDA should not be greenlighting drugs that would boost Big Tobacco’s profits and its ability to further addict and harm millions across the U.S. and globally.

Approving the Covifenz vaccine would not only legitimize the tobacco industry as a public health partner but also undermine decades of effective tobacco control efforts. After all, we now know tobacco-related conditions like respiratory and cardiovascular diseases are risk factors associated with the COVID-19 virus.

The control of one pandemic should not come at the expense of another. Add your voice to the growing global opposition against Philip Morris International’s attempts to derail global tobacco control by seeking FDA approval of Medicago’s Covifenz vaccine.

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