How links with tobacco industry may have influenced the publication of research on second-hand smoke

02/23/05

NB. Please note that if you are outside North America, the embargo lifts 0001 hours UK time Friday, February 25, 2005.

A paper published in this week's issue of THE LANCET highlights how links with the tobacco industry may be seen to have influenced the publication of research on the dangers of second-hand tobacco smoke.

In 1987 tobacco industry personnel met to consider how to 'improve the industry's position' on passive smoking. Among the many strategies proposed one proposal made by Philip Morris USA was to 'establish a genuine scientific journal on indoor air quality'. In 1989 the international tobacco industry assisted the establishment of the International Society of the Built Environment, which published the journal Indoor and Built Environment.

Simon Chapman (University of Sydney, Australia) and colleagues reviewed 484 papers published in the journal since its inception in January 1992 until February 2004. They analysed tobacco industry documents and looked for industry associations with the Society's executive, the journal's editorial board and the extent to which the journal published papers on environmental tobacco smoke that would be deemed favourable by the tobacco industry.

They found that paid consultants to the tobacco industry dominated the society's executive: all six members in 1992 and seven of eight members in 2002 had financial associations through industry lawyers. Of the 66 papers published in the journal during the study period that related to environmental tobacco smoke 40 of them (61%) reached conclusions that could be judged to be industry-positive. Of these, 90% had at least one author with a history of an association with the tobacco industry.

Professor Chapman concludes: "On the basis of evidence presented in this paper, there is a serious concern that the tobacco industry may have been unduly influential on the content of this journal. The industry and its lawyers expected that the establishment of the International Society of the Built Environment would publish 'overall results [which] will be positive and important'. It appears to be the case that its expectations were in a large part fulfilled."

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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