Why is PMI doing this? What do they hope to get from it? Gigantic corporations don’t generally spend this much money on public relations efforts. The FSFW claims that the cigarette giant will have no input into what it does.

“Importantly, the grant terms, bylaws, and non-profit status of the Foundation preclude PMI or other tobacco industry representatives from involvement in Foundation governance, or from having any influence over the Foundation’s funding decisions, strategy, or activities,” says the press release. “The Foundation will have an independent research agenda, ownership of its data, freedom to publish, and strict protections against conflict of interest.”

Impressive. But it’s difficult to believe that PMI wants nothing for its investment except potentially flattering research on its reduced-risk nicotine products. If it is merely a public relations effort, it’s something new under the sun. It’s shock-and-awe PR.

Or maybe it’s an honest initiative. Maybe this multinational corporation is expressing its humanity. After all, corporations are people, according to Mitt Romney. Their corporate “sustainability” site certainly makes them look like cheery corporate citizens. And $1 billion over 12 years isn’t exactly going to break the bank for a company that hauls in profits of about $20 billion every year.

“Our efforts are squarely focused on ultimately replacing cigarettes with smoke-free products, by offering the millions of men and women who continue to smoke a better alternative,” PMI CEO André Calantzopoulos told the Financial Times. “We are standing at the cusp of a true revolution and look forward to the foundation’s objective review of our efforts and efforts of others.”

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