Academics with tobacco industry links are not declaring potential conflicts of interest in research

Tue, 13 Jun 2023 06:25:30 +1000

Andrew Pam <xanni [at]>

Andrew Pam

"Researchers with links to tobacco and vaping industries are failing to
disclose their potential conflicts of interest in work published in respected
academic journals, prompting calls for journals to tighten their policies and
consider penalties for inadequate declarations.

Research published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
on Wednesday analysed how often authors who directly or indirectly received
funding from the tobacco industry declared this in their research.

Curtin University’s Prof Jonine Jancey, a co-author of the research, said she
and her colleagues asked tobacco control experts from around the world to
nominate tobacco and vaping researchers they thought potentially had conflicts
of interest.

They focused on the 10 most frequently nominated researchers and looked up
their published research in the scientific database, Scopus. They also looked
up the LinkedIn and academic profiles of those researchers, and drew on
information from the University of Bath’s “Tobacco Tactics” database in the UK.

“We went through all of the research papers from the top 10 and their declared
conflicts of interest to see if they had been transparent,” Jancey said.

“We identified 553 academic papers between them, and of those more than half
had incomplete declarations or no declaration of conflicts of interest. When
you think that people who work in the scientific community should be objective,
it is incredibly disappointing and concerning.”

She said conflict-of-interest declarations were important because academic
papers informed public health practices and government policy, and influenced
public discourse around issues such as vaping.

“We really need to be vigilant about this issue because we cannot afford
industry tactics to distract us from good science,” Jancey said.

“Tobacco industries are renowned for using front groups – organisations that
aim to represent one agenda while serving some other party or interest. In the
academic world this is happening with third-party research organisations that
are used to disguise funding from the tobacco industry.”"

       *** Xanni ***
--               Andrew Pam                 Chief Scientist, Xanadu            Partner, Glass Wings               Manager, Serious Cybernetics

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