May 6, 2020

STATEMENT: Keltie Vance’s question at the Philip Morris International annual meeting

“Good morning, my name is Keltie Vance, I’m a public health advocate.

Since the 2017 launch of the PMI-funded Foundation for a Smoke-free World it continues to be just the latest in a long line of empty promises and flashy PR initiatives designed to distract from the truth: Philip Morris International relies on marketing and selling tobacco, a deadly product that claims millions of lives every year. Your company is trying to normalize the harms of tobacco use even as thousands of people are dying world wide of a respiratory illness, COVID-19.  A key figure for the Foundation and PMI’s priorities has been a major Foundation grantee, The Centre for Research Excellence in New Zealand.

That Foundation grantee raised concerns over a common-sense public health measure in New Zealand to stop smoking in cars. Going so far as to state that second-hand smoke impacts are ‘exaggerated’.

At the same time PMI New Zealand attempted to gain access to a major Auckland poverty group in a bid to get its new tobacco products marketed to poor people.  Lobbying key figures in the Ministry of Health and approaching South Auckland’s Counties Manukau District Health Board (DHB) in an attempt to give away its IQOS “smokeless tobacco” device.

Your corporation continues to target low-income and racial and ethnic minority groups with no concern that the World Health Organization has come out saying, “tobacco use accounts for a significant share of the health disparities between the rich and poor.”

The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World and its grantees continue to operate with a veil of secrecy as to the extent of corporate priorities its activities advance.

For 3 years Philip Morris International has offered no level of transparency to distinguish its priorities from the operations of the Foundation, will your corporation release its correspondence with and notes of discussions regarding the establishment of the foundation and commit to doing so on an ongoing basis?”

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