In September, 2017, notes a new letter in Lancet, Philip Morris International, one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, set up the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, with almost US $1 billion of funding over 12 years. The Foundation claims to be an independent scientific body aiming to “accelerate an end to smoking”. Yet controversy has surrounded the Foundation since its inception; its claims of legitimacy and independence have been strongly disputed and WHO and hundreds of public health organizations globally have taken a strong stance in rejecting collaboration with the Foundation.
Until now, information concerning the research the Foundation is funding, and who has accepted its money, has been scant. This changed when the Foundation filed its 2018 tax return. The authors’ analysis of this filing adds to mounting evidence that the Foundation should be seen neither as an independent organization nor as a primarily scientific one, and suggests that it might be having difficulty convincing researchers and potential funders of its legitimacy and independence as a scientific body.