Michelle Minton of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has published explosive leaked documents from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an organization that has taken hundreds of millions of dollars from billionaire Michael Bloomberg to push for bans on vaping products and other lower-risk alternatives in countries across the world. These documents reveal that Tobacco-Free Kids is using their money to “partner” with grantees in order to use them to push legislation to enact product bans and other restrictions, while also cultivating relationships with research groups and universities to politically advantageous research.
Neither Bloomberg nor its direct recipients conceal their financial ties. Bloomberg Philanthropies maintains a database that allows anyone to explore where its more than $700 million in tobacco grants have gone over the years. The largest of these beneficiaries, like CTFK, the World Health Organization (WHO), the CDC Foundation, and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (the Union), are similarly open about their relationship with Bloomberg. Where things get murkier is in how those beneficiaries utilize that funding to influence key players. The existence and effects of this sort of cooperation are, if not disguised, so indirect they are often imperceptible. Based on CTFK’s internal plans, as well as other information that has recently come to light, that appears to be the point.
The overarching theme of CTFK’s approach is: We know what’s best. The bulk of its activities are aimed at convincing governments in low- and middle-income countries to go along. The plan not only rejects, but actively intends to fight any proposed approach to tobacco regulation that might take into consideration the unique needs or values of the people who live there.
As with all Bloomberg-funded anti-tobacco outfits, CTFK exclusively pursues a zero-tolerance approach to any and all use of “tobacco,” and demands the uniform application of aggressive tobacco laws dictated by international “authorities” (themselves and the other members of Bloomberg’s network). As experience has shown, zero-tolerance approaches don’t work, and often backfire.
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