Statement prepared by Michél Legendre, organizer at Corporate Accountability to be delivered at the Philip Morris International Shareholders’ Meeting on May 1, 2019.
“Good morning, my name is Michél Legendre, associate campaign director at Corporate Accountability. My question is about Philip Morris International’s latest attempt to infiltrate the public health community: “The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World.”
In the short time since PMI launched the foundation in September of 2017, it’s already become clear that governments, public health institutions, and people around the world are seeing it for what it is: a thinly veiled attempt for PMI to cozy up to academic institutions, drive a wedge in the public health community and present itself as the solution to the very crises it drives. Well, I’m proud to say PMI’s attempt to divide the public health community has backfired.
The World Health Organization, home of the global tobacco treaty, publicly rejected the foundation’s request for partnership. Prominent universities and institutions have rejected its funding. And more than one hundred public health organizations have taken action to condemn the foundation. Most recently the WHO Executive Board denied partnership application from the Foundation. Philip Morris continues to be the sole funder of this entity—a claim counter to assurances the Foundation made two years ago. It seems PMI is painting an alternate reality–one where it has NOT spent decades and billions of dollars, over that time, trying to addict people to tobacco products. But in the real world, whether it’s as cigarettes or iQOS, this corporation’s bread and butter is selling a product–tobacco–that literally kills its users. It can’t ignore that truth, just like you can’t “unsmoke” something.
When will you commit to stop funding the Foundation for a Smoke-free World?”