Proposed BAT professorship at University of Cambridge should be opposed

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: (Published 23 March 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:774
  1. Donald Reid
  1. Chief executive Association for Public Health, London WC1H 9TX

    EDITOR,—On 6 March, Cambridge University announced plans for a programme of cooperation with the tobacco and finance conglomerate BAT Industries, which includes the naming of a professorship after the former chairman of BAT, Sir Patrick Sheehy; the award of scholarships to promising international scholars (in part selected by BAT); and the distribution by the university of promotional material bearing BAT's logo. This programme will considerably enhance BAT's efforts to improve its image in Third World markets, so contributing to its cigarette sales of 620 billion a year and to the worldwide death toll from tobacco of three million a year (World Health Organisation's estimate).

    While the university's need to attract funds from a wide variety of sources is entirely understandable, this proposal is the cause of widespread concern to members of the Association for Public Health, to many people associated with medicine in Cambridge, and to the major health charities. The Cancer Research Campaign, for example, annually provides grants of pounds sterling2.3m for research at the university into the causes and treatment of cancer.

    Since the proposal has yet to be confirmed there is still time for readers to make their views known within the university or by writing to the vice chancellor, Professor Sir David Williams, at the University of Cambridge, The Old School, Trinity Lane, Cambridge CB2 1TN (fax 01223 339669).