ILSI Statement on Tobacco Products and Companies that Produce and Sell Them

8 January, 2019

Health Risks of Tobacco Products. Scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the consensus that there is no safe level at which tobacco products may be smoked.1 Smokers as well as infants, children, and adults exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke face elevated risks of death and other serious health conditions, which can include (among others) cancer;  heart, liver  and  lung  disease; stroke; frequent  and severe asthma attacks; respiratory infections; ear  infections;  sudden  infant  death  syndrome  (SIDS);  and pregnancy complications.2 Likewise, the consumption of smokeless tobacco products can  lead to nicotine addiction and has been strongly linked to cancer of the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas.3 The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that electronic cigarettes— variously known as ““e-cigs,” “e-hookahs,” “mods,” “vape pens,” “vapes,” “tank systems,”  and “electronic nicotine delivery systems ”— “have the potential to benefit adult smokers who are not pregnant if used as a complete substitute for regular cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products.”4 However, the CDC further states that, e-cigarette use is “not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.”5

ILSI Support of Tobacco Control Policies and Measures. The International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) does not ordinarily take positions on questions of public policy. However, for the reasons described above, the consumption of tobacco products constitutes a unique threat to the health of the public,   with no compensating benefits to society. Accordingly, ILSI supports aggressive efforts to  cease  or reduce all tobacco use, including smoked tobacco products; smokeless tobacco products; and electronic cigarettes and their associated liquids  containing  nicotine  and  other  harmful  agents.  ILSI  also supports    the    objectives,    guiding    principles,    and    general    obligations    of    the    World     Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,6 and endorses the measures described in the Framework Convention.

Prohibition on ILSI Entity Relationships with Tobacco Companies. The  ILSI  entities  have  never  granted membership to organizations directly involved in the production, marketing, or sales of tobacco products. In 2001, ILSI adopted a rule specifically prohibiting such memberships, prohibiting ILSI entities to work on tobacco-related research, and providing that no ILSI entity may accept financial or other contributions—restricted or unrestricted—from any tobacco company. For a time, ILSI admitted as member companies a small number of food business subsidiaries and divisions of conglomerates that also, in separate lines of business, were involved in production and sales of tobacco  products.  In January 2015, ILSI forbade ILSI entities to accept as members companies whose affiliated entities— including parent, subsidiary, or sibling corporations or co-divisions—engage in the manufacture, production, marketing, sale, or distribution of tobacco products.

In light of the rules and developments described above, ILSI entities are prohibited from engaging in the following activities and practices:

  • Accepting as members, companies that, either directly or through an affiliate, engages in the manufacture, production, marketing, sale, or distribution of tobacco products (Tobacco Companies);
  • Accepting funds from Tobacco Companies for any purpose;
  • Engaging in or sponsoring research relating to tobacco products;
  • Permitting employees, agents, or representatives of Tobacco Companies to participate in ILSI entity governance or activities; and
  • Inviting employees, agents, or representatives of Tobacco Companies to attend ILSI entity activities.

Any violation by  an  ILSI  entity  of  these  prohibitions  will  be  treated  as  a  serious  breach  of  the  ILSI Mandatory Policies, for which  an  ILSI  entity  may  be  sanctioned,  including  by  expulsion  from  the ILSI network.7 Reports by ILSI staff, trustees, and other collaborators of alleged violations  are subject to the protections of ILSI’s  whistleblower  policies.  Members  of  the  public  who  have evidence of alleged violations of these prohibitions are encouraged to provide such evidence to ILSI’s Director of Operations and General Counsel.

  1. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (US) Office on Smoking and Health. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US); 2014. 2, Fifty Years of Change 1964–2014. Available from:; JAMA Internal Medicine (12/05/16) Inoue-Cho, Maki; Liao, Linda M.; Reyes-Guzman, Carolyn; et al.
  2. CDC Fact Sheet - Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke, (accessed November 22, 2018).
  3. CDC Fact Sheet – Smokeless Tobacco: Health Effects, (accessed November 22, 2018).
  4. CDC - About Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes), cigarettes.html (accessed November 22, 2018).
  5. Ibid.
  6. WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, (accessed November 22, 2018).