UK universities agree protocol for tobacco company fundingBMJ 2004; 329 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.329.7456.9 (Published 01 July 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:9
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I deeply disapprove the joint protocol signed by the UK universities and the charity Cancer Research UK on good practice of funding of research by the tobacco industry. This protocol leaves too much room for interpretation. If these universities would really carefully consider whether they should or should not accept research funds from the tobacco industry, undoubtedly the answer always would have to be “no”. Researchers of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, for example, have already clearly shown how the tobacco industry attempted to mobilize political pressure on the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to delay or stop it from issuing its 1992 risk assessment on environmental tobacco smoke (www.newswise.com/p/articles/view/504096/).
The interests of the tobacco industry are more than obvious: to sell its products and make profits without any scruples. This industry has no intention at all to minimise public health hazards. It is therefore not possible to unite decently a cancer and disease making industry with the making of cancer research or any other type of public health research. The determined call against smoking and the explicit Codex of the Forum Smoke-free in Berlin (www.forum-rauchfrei.de) exclude strictly any such ambiguous compromise.
No institution or researcher should forget that a tobacco company's funds come from a money-making machine contaminated with addiction, cancer, blood and pain. There is no ethically clean way to turn this money into social wealth. No institution can try to launder this money without compromising itself. How much credibility could a hard working cancer researcher expect, if his work is financed and socially stigmatised by the world’s leading disease industry?
Dr. Ulrich Strunk
Competing interests: No competing interests