The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World Ends Agreement With PMI as it Seeks to Rebrand

The Foundation's previous association with Big Tobacco has held it back. Hence, the newly appointed President and CEO has cut ties with PMI as he moves the organization into a new era.

A few months back, the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World announced Clifford E. Douglas as its new President and Chief Executive Officer. Having previously served as the Director of the University of Michigan Tobacco Research Network and as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health’s Department of Health Management and Policy, Douglas brings extensive experience to the role. Before joining the University of Michigan, he was the American Cancer Society’s Vice President for Tobacco Control.

The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World is an independent non-profit grant making organization focused on ending illness and death caused by smoking, the leading preventable cause of death worldwide. The organization’s mission is to accelerate the decline in smoking and reduce the harm it causes globally.

However, the Foundation was previously the subject of controversy when albeit independent, it was being funded by tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI). Now that this agreement has been terminated, the Smoke-Free Foundation is able to seek new collaborations with associations and institutions to accelerate life-saving research projects based on the latest science.

Douglas has had a notable career in smoking cessation and tobacco control. He played a key role in eliminating smoking on airline flights and was an attorney and advisor in landmark lawsuits against tobacco manufacturers. Additionally, Douglas managed a $6 million campaign to end smoking on college campuses and worked to increase public awareness of the link between smoking and COVID-19.

Pam Parizek, Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, highlighted Douglas’s extensive background, emphasizing his contributions to eliminating smoking in America and globally. Parizek noted that Douglas understands both the scientific and societal aspects of tobacco issues and is well-suited to lead the Foundation’s efforts to fund meaningful research and engage in evidence-based education to help people at risk of smoking.

On his part, Douglas expressed enthusiasm for his new role, stating that he looks forward to leading the Foundation’s innovative and impactful efforts to reduce smoking prevalence and improve public understanding of the health impact of nicotine. He aims to help people find healthier lifestyles and noted that the Foundation will continue to be a strong and independent voice in smoking cessation and tobacco harm reduction.

Breaking away from Big Tobacco
In November 23 the Foundation announced it would be rebranding and formally cutting its ties with PMI. The announcement, which came directly from Douglas, also revealed plans to change the organization’s name in the near future, to align with its renewed focus on public health. Parizek mentioned that by cutting ties with the tobacco company, the Foundation is entering a new era under Douglas’s leadership.

The new CEO emphasized that the move signals a clear break from the tobacco industry, reinforcing the foundation’s commitment to ending smoking and promoting a healthier future. The organization’s ultimate goal is to end smoking within a generation, and Douglas’s leadership is expected to drive the it’s mission forward through innovative approaches to smoking cessation and harm reduction.