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The ethics of the cash register: taking tobacco research dollars
  1. SIMON CHAPMAN, Editor
  1. Tobacco Control
  2. Simonc@health.usyd.edu.au
  3. Tobacco News Online
  4. shatensteins@sympatico.ca
    1. STAN SHATENSTEIN, Editor
    1. Tobacco Control
    2. Simonc@health.usyd.edu.au
    3. Tobacco News Online
    4. shatensteins@sympatico.ca

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      • A dictator plunders billions from his nation's treasury. Soon for exile, he offers some ill-gotten millions to one of his land's universities, insisting that it fund a new school of social welfare studies that will bear his name.

      • For years, an oil baron has traded petroleum products for weapons, fuelling a lengthy, futile regional conflict. Sensitive to international criticism, he promises a few million pounds to a prestigious European university, to create a chair in “peace studies”.

      • A pornographer makes millions from films employing, on miserable wages, illiterate men and women from slums and villages of Asian nations. Now the subject of international vilification in the western media, he offers a fraction of his riches to his alma mater. The caveat? The money must establish a chair in erotic literature.

      • An unrepentant Nazi officer amassed fabulous wealth by selling possessions of concentration camp victims. Grateful to the country that provided him refuge from judgment at Nuremberg, he expresses appreciation on his death bed by donating his fortune to the nation's leading school, insisting that it be used to teach “a critical history of the Holocaust”.

      • A leading tobacco company controls over 15% of the global market,1 making it responsible, annually, for more than 600 000 deaths worldwide.2 The company promises millions of pounds to create an International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, where students may learn of the “social and environmental responsibilities of multinational companies”.3

      The above suggestions are in lurid, poor taste. Surely, no academic institution would risk international opprobrium by accepting such a scheme? Yet, that is precisely what has happened this past December.

      For the sobering sum of £3.8 million (around $5.7 million), British American Tobacco (BAT) announced that it would fund an International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility at Britain's Nottingham University. As …

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