Tobacco Center Faculty Blog

October 6, 2011

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

October 6, 2011

Dr. Nora D. Volkow, Director
National Institute on Drug Abuse
National Institutes of Health
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 5213
Bethesda, MD 20892-9561

Dear Dr. Volkow,

I was very pleased to read the recent statement by NIDA’s National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse, “Points to Consider Regarding Tobacco Industry Funding of NIDA Applicants.”  It is a sensible and scientifically sound response to the overwhelming evidence that the tobacco industry has used funding of science in its efforts to maintain its sales and profits at the cost of the public’s health.

As the Council noted, this distortion of science was a key element of Federal Judge Gladys Kessler’s ruling, upheld on appeal, that the tobacco companies created an illegal racketeering enterprise and that this behavior was continuing and likely to continue in the future.

I hope that you will act on this recommendation by seeing that the considerations suggested by the Council are formally integrated into NIDA’s funding decision making process.

Please share this letter with the Council and others at NIDA who were instrumental in developing this policy.

Thank you for NIDA’s leadership on this important issue.

Best wishes,

October 6, 2011

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD
  The National Institute for Drug Abuse's National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse (NACDA) has made a very important recommendation to NIDA on the issue of tobacco industry funding for research.  After summarizing the tobacco industry's long history of funding research as part of its ongoing effort "to deceive the
American public about the health effects of smoking and environmental tobacco smoke, the addictiveness of nicotine, the lack of health benefits from low tar
and "light" cigarettes, and their manipulating the design and composition of cigarettes in order to create and sustain nicotine addiction," NACDA suggested that NIDA take care to "ensure that the design, conduct, and reporting of research results is not compromised or does not appear to be compromised by an Investigator's or Institution's relationship with the tobacco industry."  

In particular, they offered two "Points to consider," quoted in full below:


October 5, 2011

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD
On 29 September 2011, more than a dozen prominent European tobacco control scholars, citing evidence that movies with smoking harm European young people, made a formal submission to a European Commission's consultation on State aid to audiovisual works (HT2950) that recommended that future media projects with smoking should be ineligible for public subsidy.
Among others, ASH UK and the Brussels-based European Network for Smoking Prevention noted that six of ten nations handing over the world's largest tax credits to top-grossing films with tobacco imagery were EU members: the UK, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, France and Hungary. Between 2008 and mid-2011 EU countries granted more than €260 million (US$ 350 million) in subsidies to top-grossing movies with smoking. Almost all of these films were developed by US film studios.

October 4, 2011

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

The tobacco industry has spent decades working to convince developing countries as well as funding agencies that they should not "waste" their time on tobacco control, but rather focus on infectious diseases like tuberculosis at the same time that the multinational tobacco companies were expanding aggressively in those very countries.

We just published a paper that modernizes mathematical models of the global TB epidemic to include the effects of smoking and passive smoking. This paper shows that, because smoking and passive smoking facilitate the spread of TB and the transition from infection to active TB, continued increases in smoking in much of the world will dramatically delay achieving the Millennium Development Goals for controlling TB. Indeed, in some parts of the world they will never be met.

This fact further bolsters the case that implementing global tobacco control, as described in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, is a key element of the development agenda because of the impact on infectious disease, as well as the connections for noncommunicable diseases identified in the UN High Level Summit a couple weeks ago. Reducing tobacco use is crucial for achieving the Millennium Development Goals for TB. Tobacco control is tuberculosis control.

October 3, 2011

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Jonathan Polansky and I just published a paper in the peer reviewed journal Tobacco Control that analyzed how much money 1232 moves released in the USA between 2002 and 2010 made. After controlling for when the movie was released, the film rating and production budget (a proxy for presence of stars, production values of the film and how heavily the film was promoted), we found that films with smoking grossed 13% less than comparable smokefree movies.

Because PG-13 smokefree films already made 41% more money at the box office than R-rated films with smoking (median $48.6 million vs. $34.4  million), implementing an R rating for smoking to remove it from youth-rated films will not conflict with the economic self interest of producers.

Even smokefree R rated movies made more money than smoking R movies.

Indeed, given Hollywood's obsession with making money, one wonders what the incentive is to keep the smoking in films.  Art?

Read the paper at