1 March 2021
Kathleen Ruff, RightOnCanada.ca
In a letter sent on February 16, 2021 over 130 public health organizations and experts around the world have challenged the American Public Health Association (APHA) to stop publishing and legitimizing the deadly deception of the tobacco industry.
APHA’s conduct violates the call of the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Federation of Public Health Associations, the Union for the International Control of Cancer and other leading health organizations, to reject any interaction with the tobacco industry or groups funded by the tobacco industry.
The WHO and health organizations have condemned the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, set up with a billion dollars funding by Philip Morris International, as an immoral tactic to sabotage public health policy:
- “This attempt by Philip Morris International to paint itself as a public health partner is manipulative and dangerous. It is a new twist out of the tobacco industry’s deadly playbook, but nobody should be fooled. It’s a continuation of a decades-long effort to paint over tobacco’s role in spreading death and misery around the globe.” Statement by American Cancer Society on Foundation for a Smoke-Free World.
- Union for International Cancer Control issues warning about the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. In its warning, the UICC emphasized that the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World employs similar marketing tactics as the tobacco industry which funds it. “The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World is merely intended to mislead health organisations, policymakers and the general public,” stated Dr Cary Adams, CEO of UICC.
- The WHO bans the Foundation from participating in its meetings and states that collaboration with the Foundation by a government that is a Party to the WHO Convention on Tobacco Control constitutes a clear violation of the Convention. WHO specifically calls on the public health community to have no interactions with the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World.
American Public Health Association is harming public health
The American Public Health Association, however, is doing the opposite. Without any open discussion or transparency, it has adopted a policy to invite the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World and the tobacco industry to participate in and influence discussions on public health policy and have their harmful deception published in APHA’s journal, American Journal of Public Health.
The 24 members of the APHA’s Executive Board have not responded to the February 16, 2021 letter from the more than 130 organizations and experts around the world. Nor did they respond to earlier submissions sent to them on January 6, 2021 and on November 3, 2020.
The United States government is one of a tiny handful of countries that have not ratified the world’s landmark public health Convention – the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The tobacco industry causes 8 million deaths a year. 80% of the deaths are in low and middle income countries. The Convention prohibits any interaction with the tobacco industry or groups funded by the tobacco industry. The tobacco industry is working relentlessly to sabotage the Convention and is continuing aggressive campaigns to addict millions more youngsters, particularly in low and middle income countries, to tobacco, causing half of them to die premature deaths.
Instead of protecting public health, the APHA is helping the efforts of the tobacco industry to harm public health. This is a serious betrayal of its mission.
Surely it is time for the American Public Health Association to join with health organizations around the world and support the WHO Convention on Tobacco Control.
Around the world many are watching and awaiting the APHA’s response.
They deeply hope that the APHA will show leadership to support the Convention.