On December 12, 2019, the Institute of Law Studies at the Polish Academy of Sciences is hosting a conference on “Combatting Illegal Tobacco Trade in the Era of Fast Change” in Warsaw, Poland. At a glance, the event may look benign, or even helpful. But a closer look at the agenda reveals it will be promoting research funded by tobacco-giant Philip Morris International (PMI).
The tobacco industry has a long history of funding misleading research.
Even more concerning is that officials from several governments are scheduled to attend. The agenda lists representatives from the National Tax Administration of Poland and the Central Investigation Bureau of Police of Poland, a Member of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova and a representative from the UK Intellectual Property Office. Many panels also include researchers and academics from universities such as Vilnius University, University of Ferrara, and several more.
STOP is urging researchers and government representatives to not participate in the event. Our concerns include:
- Government officials and researchers from public universities who attend may be in breach of an international treaty, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). If their governments are party to the treaty, they would be violating provisions that require them to reject tobacco industry partnerships and collaboration in policy-related activities.
- Increasing evidence suggests the tobacco industry is complicit in illicit trade.
- Tobacco companies have a history of overstating the illicit trade problem as a way to argue against tobacco control policy.
- The tobacco industry is known to fund and promote misleading research that supports its business objectives. Several PMI Impact –funded research organizations have been criticized for overstating the extent of illicit trade and a lack of transparency and research rigor.
STOP believes that Philip Morris International uses the PMI Impact program for lobbying and public relations. Funding such research enables PMI to gain access to the policy process and influence policy outcomes in its favor. For this reason, we urge government representatives, researchers and academic organizations to protect the credibility of research in the policy process by rejecting PMI Impact. You can do this by:
- Sharing this blog
- Declining invitations for this and similar events that promote tobacco industry initiatives and tobacco-funded research
- Rejecting funding from and collaboration with the tobacco industry
- Treating tobacco-funded research with skepticism and using independent research as the basis for policy decisions
- Alerting STOP to similar industry-funded events and research.