In June 2020, the editors of The American Journal of Public Health
published a series of articles discussing public health controls for
e-cigarettes.1 The authors in this series included Dr. Derek Yach, President of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World and other scientists from this Foundation, who argued – despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary
- that e-cigarettes are beneficial, that flavors in e-cigarettes should
not be regulated, that regulations simply increase the black market, and
that “many tobacco control non-governmental organization activists” create
public misconception and alarmism.2
The Collegium Ramazzini
notes with grave concern that Dr. Yach and his colleagues in the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World are not
objective scientists weighing the risks and benefits of e-cigarettes from the
perspective of protecting the public’s health. Instead, they are
spokespersons well-funded by the tobacco industry and recognized as advancing a
commercial message. The main supporter of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World is Philip Morris International (PMI), the world’s largest
publicly traded tobacco company. PMI is financing the Foundation for a
Smoke-Free World with $80 million annually over the next 12 years - a total of
nearly $1 billion.3, 4
It is the conclusion of the
Collegium Ramazzini that the editors of The
American Journal of Public Health made a serious error of judgement in allowing
Dr. Yach and the Foundation for a Smoke-free World to publish their
scientifically unfounded views in The
American Journal of Public Health.
By giving Dr. Yach and his
colleagues space and a platform in the official journal of the American Public
Health Association, the editors have assisted the Foundation for a Smoke-Free
World in its ongoing efforts to convey the mistaken impression that Dr. Yach’s
opinions represent a legitimate scientific opinion, when in fact Dr. Yach’s
expressed views and those of his Foundation are anything but representative of
the current scientific consensus.
The Collegium Ramazzini recommends that the
Executive Board of the American Public health Association (APHA) and the AJPH Editorial Board to take the
following two actions:
First, the APHA Executive Board must adopt a
formal policy position rejecting any collaboration or funding of any kind from
the tobacco industry and its front groups.
This position will align APHA with the World Health Organization, the World
Federation of Public Health Associations and
leading, respected public health organizations across the United States and
around the world.
Second, the editors of AJPH must publish
a formal statement in the journal retracting the articles by Dr. Derek Yach and
other individuals and organizations funded by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free
World and other arms of the tobacco industry that AJPH published in its June 2020 issue. This retraction must be listed in Pub Med and
linked in Pub Med to the citation to Dr. Yach’s article.
Please click below to read the full statement.