Editorials

Publishing research supported by the tobacco industry

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7024.133 (Published 20 January 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:133
  1. John Roberts,
  2. Richard Smith
  1. North American editor Editor BMJ London WC1H 9JR

    Journals should reverse ban on industry sponsored research

    The tobacco industry's behaviour is as noxious as its products. During the past year, tobacco executives have denied that nicotine is addictive, spent heavily to stop antismoking laws in the American Congress and states, prosecuted their own former executives who have tried to speak out, and even threatened the media's attempts at investigations.1 So it is not surprising that the American Thoracic Society, the scientific arm of the American Lung Association, decided last month that it would no longer accept any medical research that is funded by the tobacco industry in its two peer reviewed journals (6 January, p 11.)2 The decision was a step further in the medical society's laudable fight against tobacco, but it was a misguided one.

    Tobacco accounts for a third of deaths in the developed world3 and about 10% of medical costs in the United States result directly from tobacco use. More perniciously tobacco advertising has been shown to be aimed successfully at young people.4 In Washington, the industry spends millions to maintain its own livelihood by being, according to one congressman, “the most pervasive lobbyist in politics today.”5 The tobacco industry also promotes itself through research grants. In 1994 in the United States it distributed $19.5 million for research, which resulted in 375 scientific papers. Nearly 1100 …

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