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Philip Morris Int'l dropped as Swiss Pavilion sponsor after backlash

$1.8m third-party funding from Marlboro-maker dropped after Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis faced criticism earlier this week

Expo 2020 Dubai's Switzerland Pavilion.
Expo 2020 Dubai / Screenshot
Expo 2020 Dubai's Switzerland Pavilion.

Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) announced it had dropped the “controversial sponsorship” proposal it was eyeing with American cigarette-maker Philip Morris International (PMI) for its pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai – named Belle Vues – after Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis faced backlash earlier this week from Swiss School of Public Health, which said the Swiss Pavilion’s backing from the maker of Marlboro cigarettes was “unacceptable”.

In a German-language open letter addressed to Cassis, Swiss School of Public Health said the PMI and Swiss Government’s deal for the next World Expo – which is being held under the theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ – underlined Switzerland’s “backwardness in tobacco legislation”.

FDFA announced on 30 July that it was “no longer pursuing the possibility of a sponsorship” with PMI so as to “not to undermine the primary objective of the Swiss presence in Dubai, which is to convey a positive image of Switzerland”.

Switzerland’s Federal Council and Parliament are seeking 50% of the $15.2m Swiss Pavilion’s funding from the private sector.

With $1.8m in sponsorship, PMI would “have made a significant contribution to the required level of third-party funding”, FDFA said.

The government authority added that Cassis was not briefed on the process of procuring individual sponsors for the pavilion, and had viewed the PMI deal “with skepticism” when he was briefed on it in mid-June.

FDFA said Cassis had “looked into the situation in more detail” after media reports emerged earlier this week following Swiss School of Public Health’s letter.

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