The latest report by the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA) exposed Bloomberg’s meddling in anti-smoking policies.
According to a recent report by CAPRHA, at least seven NGOs in the Philippines have been granted funds by Bloomberg Philanthropy to demonise nicotine use. It comes following the national Parliament’s decision to investigate the financial ties between Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Philippines’ FDA in promoting anti-smoking and tobacco control policies.
The Philippines have struggled in recent years to maintain public health services to the population. The pandemic eventually hit the country on multiple levels, as the economy shrank by almost 10% in 2020, forcing the government to prioritise the national budget from health care to other areas.
“The Public Health Department in the Philippines is vulnerable because they suffer from persistent lack of funding. When Bloomberg- or NGOs connected with the organisation- fund projects linked with public health, they put themself in a position capable of influencing key-area such as the Tobacco Control policies,” stated Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of CAPHRA.
Last March, the Philippines Food and Drug Administration admitted to having received funds from an organisation connected with Bloomberg Philantophry to draft specific regulations on e-cigarette and heated tobacco products, sparking outcry among the advocates for Tobacco Harm Reduction.
Following the statement, in a report approved by a committee of the Filipino government, lawmakers called for an investigation to prove Bloomberg’s money-driven influence over the Philippines’ FDA.
The report, endorsed by the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, confirmed the connection between FDA and Bloomberg Philanthropies and their illegal practice. Under the Philippines law, Bloomberg and its associate at FDA may now be persecuted for their actions, although very few believe this will happen.
“Sadly, if the Philippines’ FDA or other branches of the government wish to follow the indication by Bloomberg, they are perfectly in line with WHO directives. So their actions are justified under the pretext of following what the international regulatory bodies suggest,” said Ms Loucas.
This isn’t the first time the American billionaire Michael Bloomberg has been criticised for its controversial plan of action towards Low Middle Income Countries (LMIC).
For years, Bloomberg has tunnelled funds to nonprofits, universities, and activists to spread unreasonable hysteria and misinformation over vaping and push governments to prohibit not only combustible cigarettes but also low-risk alternative products.
A previous paper by INNCO called out the practises followed by Bloomberg Philanthropies on LMIC. A “Philanthropic Colonialism” in which fundings are used as a tool to push governments to follow a particular agenda. However, the debate on Ecig and the right of smokers to have safer alternatives to the traditional cigarette is not limited only to a question of public health but is part of a broader debate of social justice for the poorest countries.
As Ms Loucas underlined: ”Many policymakers in the World Health Organisation and other international bodies forget that the most important goal for public health should be people. It is easy to look at statistics or papers, but the main point is that this is about people and their right to make an informed choice. Our health is not for sale.”
Bloomberg activities continue to support the strategy of “quit or die”, denying millions of people to move away from deadly products. An approach that disrupts not only the life of smokers who try to save their lives by quitting conventional cigarettes but leaves the most vulnerable among the world population behind.
Unfortunately -as stated by CAPHRA’s Executive Coordinator- “ this is not a matter of public health, but money and relevance.”