Reject funding from tobacco industry, MMA urges Putrajaya

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) today urged Putrajaya and researchers to reject any assistance or funding from entities backed by the tobacco industry.

It welcomed the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) decision to refuse to work with the Phillip Morris International (PMI)-funded Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW).

In a statement, MMA said that “Phillip Morris continues to earn billions from those who fall prey to tobacco addiction.

“Our concern is FSFW effectively operationalises Phillip Morris’ corporate affairs strategy to further its business, which includes the promotion of its heated tobacco products, a market which it seeks to dominate.”

In January 2019, FSFW had reached out to WHO for potential partnerships.

At the 144th session of WHO’s executive board (WHO-EB), director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reiterated WHO’s commitment to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC), the world’s first global health treaty, and the provisions that oblige countries to protect tobacco control policies from tobacco companies and invested third parties.

Global tobacco industry watchdog, Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP), in a January 2019 letter supported by over 300 organisations and experts, urged WHO to reject FSFW’s outreach, citing “clear conflicts of interest”.

“Analysis of leaked Phillip Morris corporate affairs documents suggests that the establishment of FSFW is consistent with the company’s corporate strategy,” it said in the letter.

STOP called on WHO to reject any affiliation with FSFW.

On Feb 7, the tobacco watchdog had also welcomed WHO’s decision.

“We urge researchers and governments currently being approached by FSFW to also recognise that FSFW has no place, either in public health science or at the policy table.”