Background: The tobacco industry uses various strategies to promote itself as a socially responsible, ethical industry, including establishing links with health institutions and medical research. The purpose of this study was to identify the relationships between the tobacco industry and Canadian faculties of medicine, specifically research funding and donations from tobacco industry sources, and faculty-specific policies regarding the acceptance of tobacco industry funds.
Methods: Information about policies and practices regarding research funding and donations from 1996-1999 was requested from the 16 Canadian faculties of medicine and their parent universities, as part of a larger cross-sectional survey-centred study that examined links between the tobacco industry and Canadian universities.
Results: All 16 faculties of medicine (100%) reported on research funding and 11/16 (70%)reported on donations from the tobacco industry. Twenty-five percent (4/16) of the faculties received research funding from the tobacco industry and 27% (3/11) received donations. No Canadian medical school had a policy that banned tobacco industry research funding or donations.
Interpretation: The tobacco industry have made donations and given research funding to faculties of medicine in Canada. This may present major conflicts of interest that undermine public health and have implications for the scientific integrity of the medical research enterprise. Faculties of medicine should consider developing policies that prohibit tobacco industry research funding and donations, with the intent of preventing conflicts and precluding ethical dilemmas arising from links with the tobacco industry. They should also encourage parent universities to establish similar policies at an institutional level.Author(s): Pam Kaufman, Joanna Cohen, Mary Jane Ashley, Roberta Ferrence, Alison Halyk, Fernand Turcotte, Kenneth Kyle, and Donna Stewart
Date: May 2004
Type of Publication: Journal Article