A new research by the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA) has confirmed that Philippine NGOs were among those that received millions of dollars from the anti-tobacco Bloomberg and Gates foundations to lobby the government for a ban on vaping in the country.
Coming on the heels of a House probe on foreign money allegedly influencing the Department of Health and the Food and Drugs administration without transparency and proper audit, CAPHRA outlined the money trail that go to lobbying for vested-interest policies devoid of any public disclosure and accountability.
“These foundations dismiss compelling international scientific evidence and apply bullying tactics to unduly influence the public health policies of sovereign nations. While many independent Asia-Pacific countries are delivering progressive and successful tobacco harm reduction policies and programs, big money and influence–mostly American–are conspiring to demonize their work,” said CAPHRA Philippine representative Clarisse Virgino, who conducted the research.
Virgino revealed that US financial billionaire Michael Bloomberg, through his various philanthropic organizations, provided grants to a number of local organizations, influence-peddling non-government organizations and lobby groups to push Bloomberg’s anti-vaping advocacy.
The research paper noted that Bloomberg’s lobby money includes at least eight grants since 2010 to HealthJustice Philippines, six since 2011 to Action for Economic Reforms, 10 since 2009 to Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines, at least two since 2017 to Action on Smoking & Health Philippines and two since 2018 to Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development.
It discovered at least three grants since 2018 to Social Watch Philippines and at least five since 2014 to New Vois Association of the Philippines
Virgino, a former smoker who was able to quit by switching to vaping, said several billionaire-backed charitable organizations and pharmaceutical companies were spending hundreds of millions of US dollars to force an anti-vaping agenda onto unsuspecting countries.
“The billionaires are tied to the charities with links to the pharmaceutical companies, which in turn are tied to the billionaires. Most alarmingly, they don’t reveal these ties as money changes hands and their talking points are unwittingly parroted by government officials. Those who express opposing viewpoints are often publicly bullied into submission,” she said.