October 6, 2011

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

NIDA advisory board raises issues of tobacco industry funding: Thank and support them

  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:


For NIDA Grantees:

The tobacco industry manufactures, markets, and distributes products that are both addictive and lethal. In fact, cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of premature death in the US, killing approximately 440,000 people per year. Thus, it is the opinion of NACDA that the interests of the tobacco industry are fundamentally incompatible with the scientific goals and public health mission of NIDA. NIDA grantees should recognize that::

  • Receiving funding from the tobacco industry may compromise the perceived objectivity of their research results, which in turn could impact the overall
    credibility of their research findings, including its interpretation, acceptance and implementation;
  • Acceptance of tobacco industry funds is viewed by many as contributing directly or indirectly to the industry's interests, and thus harmful to the public health; and
  • Any connection between tobacco industry supported research (or tobacco industry scientists) and NIDA could negatively impact NIDA's credibility and the
    public's trust in NIDA funded research.
NIDA Considerations Regarding Research Applicants also Supported by Tobacco Industry Funding:
  • NIDA must consider whether a Grantee's funding relationship, including the potential use of its name in conjunction with that of one or more tobacco
    companies, may impact the credibility of the research results as well as public confidence in NIDA's stewardship of its funds and its research-based
    recommendations; and When making funding decision regarding applicants who receive tobacco industry funding, NIDA must weigh the potential impact these funding relationships may have on public trust and confidence against the potential public good that could result from the considered application.

NIDA must make research funding decisions based on scientific merit and public health goals. Grantees receiving NIDA funds should consider the impact of
acceptance of tobacco industry funding on NIDA's credibility and reputation within the scientific community. It is in that spirit that the NACDA encourages
NIDA and its Grantees to consider the points set forth in this document with regard to existing or prospective sponsored research agreements with tobacco
companies or their related entities.


This is an exceptionally important statement.  We should all support NIDA in taking this step and urge them to implement this recommendation into the formal peer review process.  

You can do so by writing NIDA Director Nora Volkow and urge her to move forward on implementing this policy.  (You can bet that she will be hearing from the tobacco industry and its friends and supplicants in Congress.)  Her address is

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

Dr. Volkow's email address is [email protected].

The full NIDA statement is available at  http://www.drugabuse.gov/about/organization/nacda/points-to-consider.html#i



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