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US lobbyists reveal multi-million-dollar effort to decimate vaping largely linked to three organisations

By Jordan Millar 10th December 2022 4 Mins


The war on vaping is being bank rolled by ‘pompous, unaccountable tycoons’ who’ve poured millions into a global misinformation campaign, warns damning new research.

The report – from the American Vapor Manufacturers – said the tentacles of these mega-donors spread far and wide, influencing academia, lobbyists, front groups and journalists on a massive scale.

It examined publicly-available financial records dating back to 2017 and uncovered that most of the ‘ulterior funding’ driving the anti-vaping movement could be traced to just three wealthy foundations:


Described as the ‘heaviest hitter’ of the deep-pocketed trio, this colossal charity is headed by long-time enemy of vaping Michael Bloomberg.

Over the past five years, it has not only pumped extortionate funds into tobacco control groups and research, but it has given tens of millions to leading health organisations like the CDC and the WHO.

The AVM report paid particular attention to the financial links between Bloomberg Philanthropies and researchers at major universities who have produced negative vaping studies.

It also highlighted that the charity has donated more than $60 million to lobbyist group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids…which the report suggests could be ‘at the heart’ of the ‘anti-vaping’ effort.


Committed to fighting ‘poverty, disease and inequity’ on a global scale, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has seemingly taken it upon itself to also stand against vaping.

As with Bloomberg Philanthropies, this organisation directly pours considerable funding into the CTFK…giving the lobbyist group around $12 million over the past five years.

It has also signed over more than $26 million dollars to the non-profit New Venture Fund, which in turn has given hundreds of thousands to the American Cancer Society and – there’s that name again – the CTFK.

But what was perhaps most alarming was the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s ‘direct partnership’ with Bloomberg Philanthropies…to whom it gives an eye[1]watering $7+ million per year.


Beyond its multi-million-dollar donations, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation also established the National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids in 1995…which later became the CTFK.

The report confirmed the RWJF remains a ‘major funder’ for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, even giving it a ‘$12 million boost’ for the purposes of ‘rebuilding and sustaining its work’.

However, it’s the foundation’s ‘close affiliation’ with pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson – which produces smoking cessation products like Nicorette – that the AVM says is most ‘nefarious’.

The RWJF has also given more than $6 million to the Public Health Law Centre, which subsequently provides ‘legal assistance to the tobacco-control community’.

Just a ‘snapshot’

Alarmingly, the AVM warned its new report was just a ‘snapshot’ of the multi-million-dollar network that has fuelled the vaping misinformation machine.

It said: “We have three major foundations – two of which are led by multi-billionaires and one with a major conflict of interest – funding an entire movement promoting fear about vaping.

“And this just scratches the surface of the extent of the money flowing around…it’s a complex web, but it’s worth untangling.”

The US lobbyist group said the exorbitant amount of cash being pumped into anti-vaping efforts would be a ‘dream story for any savvy investigative reporter’.

However, it claimed that journalists ‘barely bat an eye’ when it’s brought to their attention…so the AVM decided to ‘expose hidden agendas and conflicts of interest’ itself.

AVM president Amanda Wheeler said: “This crucial public health issue, which ought to be guided strictly by scientific analysis, has been gripped in a stranglehold by pompous tycoons utterly unaccountable to anyone.

“The effect is that countless Americans are being deprived of the single most effective smoking cessation method ever…that ought to be a national scandal.”

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Jordan Millar