A leading training Institute rejects PMI-funded training consultant

On the 24th of August 2022, tobacco control advocates in South Africa (SA) found out about the training of family Medicine practitioners on the “Tobacco harm reduction masterclass course” offered by the Emerging Market Healthcare (EMC) institute.  Further investigations revealed that the trainer was a Phillip Morris International (PMI) paid consultant.  The Tobacco Control Alliance in SA together with solicited support from the academia, wrote a letter to the EMC and requested them to stop the second training, which was scheduled for the 30th of August 2022.

In response, the institute mentioned that they were not aware of any objection to the involvement of the PMI-sponsored consultants in such trainings, giving the excuse that other Doctor organisations have run similar courses, even marketing the PMI banner.  The institute was made aware in a follow-up letter that this is a tactic the industry employs to launder its image to appear as a credible organisation, particularly addressing medical professionals on the so-called “harm reduction”. Therefore, it was not in the institute’s interest to continue as this would pose a reputational risk to the institute. The tobacco control alliance further requested for the consultant to be withdrawn or the meeting cancelled considering the information provided. The institute eventually gave in and cancelled further training.

So, we thought we should share our experience that whenever there is a TIM network working together, we can have success in counter tobacco industry interference and advance tobacco control.