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In this issue,1 we published a paper on sleep bruxism in children exposed to secondhand smoke (see page 392). After publication, we received a letter (below) raising questions about the ethics of the study. Normally, responses to papers are published electronically as Rapid Responses, because we simply do not have page space for extensive discussions between authors and readers. However, we take research ethics very seriously at Tobacco Control, and so we are making an exception in this case to share openly with readers our process in responding to the criticism. Because the senior editors felt some of the concerns raised were reasonable, we requested further clarification about the study procedures from the authors (see response below). We also sought an expert opinion from the Department of Bioethics at the US National Institutes of Health (see editorial, below). We invite our readers to review these materials in the interest of furthering reflection on the ethical implications of research on the effects of secondhand smoke, but also on the research enterprise more generally. While standing behind our decision to publish the paper, we appreciate the thoughtful critiques and responses from our colleagues. We hope you will find the dialogue illuminating.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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