17 universities oppose anti-smoking group with tobacco ties

BOSTON (AP) — Seventeen public health schools in the U.S. and Canada today pledged to refuse research money from a new anti-smoking group funded by the tobacco industry.

The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World was created in September with nearly $1 billion from the Philip Morris tobacco company, saying it aims to end smoking worldwide and support research to meet that goal.

But deans of public health schools at Harvard, Johns Hopkins and other universities said the group is too closely tied to an industry that sells deadly products to millions.

"The idea of taking money that's from the tobacco industry is just antithetical to everything we do," said Karen Emmons, dean for academic affairs at Harvard's public health school. "Philip Morris in particular has focused very hard to undermine the strategies that we know will reduce smoking rates."

Officials at the New York-based foundation did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Philip Morris declined to comment.

The foundation has yet to issue research grants but said it has received draft proposals and will make funding decisions after a series of meetings scheduled to be held in February.

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