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Tobacco researchers say smoking harms.

Most scientists funded by the tobacco industry's Council for Tobacco Research (CTR) believe cigarette smoking "causes a wide range of serious, often fatal, diseases," according to a survey reported in the July AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH. This conflicts with the industry's description of the scientific community "as divided on the question, and [it] indicates the industry does not accept the opinions even of scientists whose research it funds," write Ronald M. Davis, director of the Centers for Disease Control's office on smoking and health, in Rockville, Md., and his colleagues at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y.

Davis and his co-workers mailed questionnaires to all 179 U.S. researchers funded by the New York City-based CTR in 1989. Seventy-seven completed the surveys, or 46 percent of those for whom the team obtained correct addresses. No major differences (in credentials, affiliation or research focus) distinguished those who did respond from those who didn't.

Among the respondents, 94 percent agreed that passive smoking was "harmful to the nonsmoker," 91 percent attributed most lung cancers to smoking, and all but one researcher described smoking as addictive. Respondents also ranked smoking prevention and smoking cessation as deserving the highest research priority. "None of CTR's active research projects relate to these topics," write Davis and his co-workers.

CTR awards peer-reviewed grants and assures recipients they will receive full scientific independence. However, Davis and his co-authors argue, CTR's "misuse" of this science as "a public relations vehicle" should raise major ethical questions among grantees who believe smoking is harmful -- such as whether they should continue to indirectly further the tobacco industry's aims by accepting its money.

"I find no possible moral compromise in pursuing scientific inquiry and tapping all available sources of funding," counters Thomas Lauria of the Tobacco Institute in Washington, D.C. As of 1988, he notes, CTR spent more than $150 million on independent research.
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Title Annotation:scientists funded by the tobacco industry believe cigarettes are harmful
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 27, 1991
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