The foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW) has ties with Philip Morris, a big name in tobacco world, hence making Indian government reluctant to partner.
“Any collaboration with the Foundation for a Smoke Free World should be avoided in the larger interest of Public Health,” stated by senior health ministry official, Sanjeeva Kumar.
- The FSFW was established in 2017, focussing on eliminating usage of cigarettes and works towards smoking cessation using new technologies and alternative product.
- While FSFW could be a great initiative, it is backed by Marlboro-manufacturer Philip Morris.
- India’s federal health ministry has sent a letter, dated June 24, to chief secretaries of all states advising not to partner with FSFW.
- The ministry said Philip Morris was funding FSFW as well as manufacturing and promoting harm-reduction smoking devices.
- FSFW is led by former WHO official Dr. Derek Yach who released a statement that FSFW operates with complete independence from Philip Morris and is committed to full transparency.
More than 900,000 die each year in India due to tobacco
India has 106 million adult smokers, second only to China, and more than 900,000 people die each year in India due to tobacco-related illnesses. While, the Indian government has intensified its tobacco-control efforts, raising cigarette taxes and ordering companies to print bigger health warnings on cigarette packs.
At least three Indian anti-tobacco groups earlier this year wrote to the federal health ministry in New Delhi calling for the rejection of any possible partnerships with FSFW, according to copies of their representations seen by Reuters.
India becoming a smoke free country, will take ages to turn into reality. When the FSFW was launched in 2017, the WHO had said it will not partner with the foundation and asked governments around the world and public health communities to follow the agency’s lead.