WHO tells governments to reject Philip Morris-funded smoking foundation

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization told governments on Thursday not to get involved in a foundation funded by tobacco firm Philip Morris International to look at ways of reducing the harm from smoking.

The U.N. health body said there was a conflict of interest in a tobacco firm funding such research - drawing a sharp rebuke from the Foundation’s head who said his work was independent.

Philip Morris International said this month it wanted to help set up a body called the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World and planned to give it about $80 million a year for 12 years to keep it running.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for a comment on the WHO’s statement.

The U.N. body said on Thursday there were already proven techniques to tackle smoking - including tobacco taxes, graphic warning labels and advertising bans - which the tobacco industry had opposed in the past.

“WHO will not partner with the Foundation. Governments should not partner with the Foundation and the public health community should follow this lead,” it said.