By THE NATION
Philip Morris Trading (Thailand)’s Pongsathorn Ansusinha said: “Neither Philip Morris Thailand nor Philip Morris International [PMI] have anything to do with any activities held by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, which is an independent, non-profit organisation dedicated to reducing the negative health impacts from smoking.
“PMI provided initial funding to the foundation but PMI and the tobacco industry are prohibited from having any influence over how the foundation spends its funds or focuses its activities.”
Pongsathorn, the external affairs director for PMI’s Thailand business, was speaking at a press conference titled “A Smoke-Free Index Dialogue”.
“Our vision is to transform our business away from cigarettes and towards smoke-free alternatives, as soon as possible,” he added.
“There are nearly 11 million smokers in Thailand today and many of those will continue smoking. Our message to these smokers is clear: the best option is to quit tobacco and nicotine use entirely. Those smokers who do not quit should have access to information about scientifically substantiated better alternatives to continued smoking.
“We are disappointed to see activists opposing meaningful discussions initiated by the independent organisation based solely on dogma”, he said.
Industry watchdog Tobacco Tactics states that Philipp Morris agreed to contribute US$80 million to the foundation annually for the next 12 years starting from 2018. The World Health Organisation has refused to partner with the foundation and recommended that governments follow its lead, stating that “research and advocacy funded by tobacco companies and their front groups cannot be accepted at face value. When it comes to the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, there are a number of clear conflicts of interest involved with a tobacco company funding a purported health foundation, particularly if it promotes sale of tobacco and other products found in that company’s brand portfolio.”