Leading medical journal refuses to publish studies backed by tobacco firms


Last week, the editors of the BMJ, Heart, Thorax, and BMJ Open announced that the journals will no longer consider for publication any tobacco industry-funded study. This new policy is consistent with that of other journals, including PLoS Medicine, the Journal of Health Psychology and the BMJ’s own Tobacco Control.

“Underlying all the activity of peer review, editing, and publishing is the assumption that medical journals exist for the purpose of advancing knowledge that can be used to promote health and reduce disease,” said BMJ Editor-in-Chief Fiona Godlee in a statement. “The tobacco industry has used research to deliberately produce ignorance and to advance its ultimate goal of selling its deadly products while shoring up its damaged legitimacy.”

In Godlee’s statement, co-authored by editors of publications within the BMJ Group, the publishing house alleges that extensive research on the tobacco industry has shown that tobacco firms have worked for decades to deliberately confuse both scientists and consumers. The authors cite what they say were deliberate campagins to fuel doubt regarding research linking smoking to lung cancer as well that regarding the negative effects of secondhand smoke.

According to the BMJ statement, medical journals have unwittingly played a role in producing and sustaining these “doubts.”

The editors also discount claims that the tobacco industry, now peddingly new types of products such as electronic nicotine delivery devices – or e-cigarettes, has changed. Editors argue that the same few multinational tobacco companies continue to dominate the global market , and that however promising  other products might be, tobacco companies are still in the cigarettes business.

“It is time to cease supporting the discredited notion that tobacco industry funded research is just like any other research,” Godlee and her team conclude. “Refusing to publish research funded by the tobacco industry affirms our fundamental commitment not to allow our journals to be used in the service of an industry that continues to perpetuate the most deadly disease epidemic of our times.” – Health-e News Service.


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