Tobacco Industry Research Might Actually Be A Bonus For Public Health

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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Scientific journals should publish research funded by the tobacco industry if the true potential of harm reduction tools like e-cigarettes is to be realized.

That’s the plea of British American Tobacco’s (BAT) chief scientific officer Dr. Chris Proctor. More, not less, transparency about tobacco and tobacco-funded research is the key to discovering new and less harmful products such as e-cigarettes, said Proctor in a press release Saturday.

Speaking to delegates at the Global Forum on Nicotine in Warsaw, Poland, Proctor urged people like Scott Leischow, editor of Tobacco Regulatory Science, “to help ensure the flow of scientific knowledge.”

“Regulators, especially in this emerging area, are always looking for more information. So it is disappointing when journals like Tobacco Regulatory Science introduce policies to not consider manuscripts funded or conducted by or on behalf of the tobacco industry,” said Proctor.

He added that “this seems at odds with a claim to ‘fully recognize the view that good science should be made available without restriction.'”

He said many public health experts believe e-cigarettes represent a great opportunity to save millions of lives and drastically reduce the burden of smoking-related diseases, and publications should welcome research to properly ensure regulators and consumers have the right information about these products.

“We need to be able to rely on manufacturers to provide useful data and to publish it in order to support their products,” Proctor said. (RELATED: New Study Says E-Cigarettes Are A ‘Roadblock’ To Smoking For Young People)

“Product innovation is happening so quickly that it is essential to have fundamental scientific information about these products and how they are used. The best way to achieve this is to ensure that scientific information for all stakeholders be produced to high standards and presented in a transparent way.”

Although he conceded the peer-review process was not perfect, Proctor argued high-quality peer-reviewed research should be taken seriously and not dismissed. (RELATED: How Gov’t Uses Crooked Research To Wage War On Food, E-Cigarettes And Alcohol)

BAT fears crucial information about e-cigarettes and next generation products could be censored or disregarded due to the zeal of some campaigners and medical professionals to destroy the tobacco industry.

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