Tobacco Giant in Row over Smoking Research

Daily Mail (London), September 2, 2011 | Go to article overview

Tobacco Giant in Row over Smoking Research


Byline: Andrew Picken Scottish Political Correspondent

ONE of the world's biggest tobacco firms has been accused by an MSP of 'intimidating' university academics investigating why teenagers smoke.

It has been revealed that Philip Morris International (PMI) has submitted a string of Freedom of Information requests to Stirling University over its research into the smoking habits of thousands of youngsters.

The maker of Marlboro cigarettes wants access to the academic study that examines why youngsters start smoking and what they think of marketing by tobacco firms.

But academics fear that handing over the information would be a breach of confidence and could jeopardise future research.

PMI claims it is not interested in any confidential information from those who took part in the survey.

The tobacco giant has already been told by the Scottish Information Commissioner that it has a 'legitimate interest in seeking the information'.

But Scottish Labour's health spokesman Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, said: 'This is extraordinary and shows the depths to which the tobacco industry will sink to prey on new victims.

'Smoking is one of the most dangerous drugs ever made legal and for 60 years the tobacco industry has been pursuing methods that would make other industries blush.

'The latest campaign of deception and intimidation being waged on these academics is simply unacceptable.' Professor Gerard Hastings, of the university's Centre for Tobacco Control Research, said it would be 'catastrophic' if it was forced to hand over the data. …

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