NTR Clarifies Tobacco Industry Policy

Posted 11th May 2021 by Dave Cross
In an editorial written by Marcus Munafo, the Nicotine & Tobacco Research journal has provided clarification on its policy regarding publishing manuscripts written by the Tobacco industry. It amounts to a breath of fresh air where research evidence should be debated on the science and not focussed on the organisations producing it.

The current issue of Nicotine & Tobacco Research (SRNT) carries an article from the tobacco industry which looks at biomarkers of potential harm and heat-not-burn products. Munafo says it is rare for the journal to do such a thing but, “for some even one article is too many”.

Our policy has always been to broadly align the journal’s policies with those of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT), which owns the journal. This is not strictly necessary, but is in our view logical. Currently, employees of the tobacco industry cannot be SRNT members, while employees of other industries (e.g., the pharmaceutical industry, the ENDS industry – as long as the company is not owned wholly or in part by a tobacco company), or who consult for or receive tobacco industry funding – can be members,” he writes (1).

He adds that SRNT has recently completed a review of its policy on engaging with the tobacco industry and those who receive grants from it.

Munafo says: “SRNT is a scientific society whose mission is to stimulate the generation and dissemination of new knowledge concerning nicotine and tobacco in all its manifestations, from cellular to societal, across research disciplines, with the ultimate goal of reducing the harms of tobacco and nicotine containing products around the globe.”

In short, SRNT believes in debate not ideologically driven censorship, although he does note, “the tobacco industry has a long history of attempting to subvert science for profit (and causing considerable harm to human health).”

Dispergo

Eschewing the selection of one side of the debate or other, Munafo states that, “science should be judged on its merits, irrespective of its origins”. And, with this position, the journal places faith in its editors and the review process to promote this satisfactorily.

The word that is prominent in editorial is “transparency”. For data, funding and authorship, SRNT has a commitment to ensure openness to guarantee confidence in its actions.

However, we are not complacent – we are aware that the situation continues to evolve, as the wider nicotine and tobacco research and policy landscape evolves. For this reason, we are launching a themed issue to explore these issues and present a range of perspectives. This will not resolve the tension, but will allow readers to consider the full range of views held across our community, as they currently stand.”

The SRNT has taken a bold and mature approach, and one that will serve the research community well. With over 7 million UK smokers, the country will benefit from a more rational discussion.

References:

  1. Nicotine & Tobacco Research Policy on the Tobacco Industry - https://academic.oup.com/ntr/advance-article/doi/10.1093/ntr/ntab089/6266415

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 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
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