What is the 990 PF form?

The 990 PF (PF is for Private Foundation) is the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) Form that a not for profit organization has to provide each year to give an explanation of how it used the funds that are tax exempt. This document is 'open to public inspection', so its content is not confidential. It gives a certain amount of information but the pdf format is not the most user friendly format and to really get the substance of the document requires spending a few hours, a few hours I assume most people don't care spending. Except if they are especially interested.

In the case of the Foundation for a Smoke Free World, go to their website, click the 'About' section (presently a pink square at the right side at the top), then Financials and scroll down to get links to the 990PF form for 2018 (57 pages) and 2019 (72 pages).

In this blog I'll especially focus on the grants and contracts awarded: who got how much, when,  to do what and is a report available.

What did I try to do?

What did I try to do?

I tried to figure out how the Foundation spent the money. 

It's not easy to figure out as the only source is the 990 forms that are only published once a year (in May). An expense or a grant awarded in January of 2020, will only be made public in May 2021 if no information is posted before that. The 990 forms are substantial (57 pages for 2018, 72 pages for 2019) and the information needs to be sorted out, extracted and you need to compare the data year by year to figure out how things are evolving.

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False transparency at the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

For me, false transparency is for an organization (like The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World under Derek Yach's management) to claim they are 'transparent' when the most complete information they provide is the annual 990 form that is a legal obligation and the rest is drastically incomplete information about their activities, especially what they fund: for instance the amount of the funding for a grant is not provided except on the 990 form, a document that is not easy to consult and is only published once a year. The FSFW grants database that you can search on their website never indicates the amounts awarded, nor the date when they were awarded, nor systematically provides ways to reach the grantee (like an email or a website), nor mentions the existence and link to a report about what the grant achieved. The Foundation (as of today, July 21, 2020) does not publish a press release when a grant is awarded, keeping the public in the dark about how it uses the yearly $80 million provided by Philip Morris International. I figured out after exploring the list of grants they published on July 3 2020, there had been 23 projects funded in the first six months of 2020 but zero press release from the Foundation and basically none either for the 73 grants or so awarded since November 2017.

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The FSFW after two years: can it be trusted?

I have put together in this post the links to the work done by Jean-Fran├žois ETTER about the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, his 2 presentations at the e-cigarette summits in London (in 2017 and 2019) and the article he published in January 2020.

Presentation 05 (video Vimeo 18 minutes) by Jean-Fran├žois Etter at the November 17 207 e-cigarette summit in London (106 views)


Presentation (video on Vimeo 20 minutes) at the 2019 e-cigarette summit in London, November 14 2019: The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World after 2 years


The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World after two years: can it be trusted?

January 20, 2020

1066 views (on April 13, 2020), 5 comments, 59 downloads

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Yale University

Yale University,

no date, A14/19, Global review of tobacco cessation and harm reduction science,   35,982,      USA

+ A15/19. page 61.  83,958

also added in March 2020, a grant to work with Signal Analytics 'to help in humanitarian efforts around COVID 19'.

As presented in the FSFW grant database



Reference found

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32317003/ April 20, 2020

Navin Kumar 


[email protected]

also this article : An overview of tobacco control interventions in the global South, scroll down to the very bottom for the funding by FSFW, published May 25, 2020

all authors are with the Human Nature Lab


Grant support

The Scope of Tobacco Cessation Randomized Controlled Trials in Low- To Middle-Income Countries: Protocol for a Scoping Review



  • 1Human Nature Lab, Department of Sociology, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA. [email protected].
  • 2Human Nature Lab, Department of Sociology, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.
  • 3Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, College of Global Public Health, New York University, 715 Broadway, New York, NY, USA.
  • 4Department of Epidemiology, College of Global Public Health, New York University, 715 Broadway, New York, NY, USA.

Biggest grants

10 at 2 million +

3 at 20 million+:    ECLAT + Rose Research + ATI 

Aggregated for various ATI Malawi = Land O' Lakes 12 + Michigan State 5,2 + IIE 2,3 + Palladium 1 = 20,5)

1 at 14 million Ethem Biotics   and aggregated budget for the Tobacco Transformation Index project (around 12 million, 4,5 + 3,1+ )

2 under 10 million but above 5: Marewa's Center (7,3), KAC (5,9) 

then a cluster of projects around 1 million, and then the amounts 'drop' (relatively)

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