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The limits of competing interest disclosures
  1. L A Bero1,
  2. S Glantz2,
  3. M-K Hong3
  1. 1Department of Clinical Pharmacy, Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
  2. 2Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco
  3. 3Public Administration Analyst, Department of Clinical Pharmacy & Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco
  1. Correspondence to:
 Lisa A Bero PhD
 University of California, 3333 California Street, Suite 420, Box 0613, San Francisco, CA 94143-0613 (94118 for express mail only), USA;


Objective: To assess the effectiveness of conflict of interest disclosure policies by comparing a competing interests disclosure statement that met the requirements established by the journal in a 2003 article on health effects of secondhand smoke based on the American Cancer Society CPS-I dataset with internal tobacco industry documents describing financial ties between the tobacco industry and authors of the study.

Design: Descriptive analysis of internal tobacco industry documents retrieved from the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, University of California, San Francisco.

Results: Meeting the requirements for financial disclosure established by the journal did not provide the reader with a full picture of the tobacco industry’s involvement with the study authors. The tobacco industry documents reveal that the authors had long standing financial and other working relationships with the tobacco industry.

Conclusion: These findings are another example of how simply requiring authors to disclose financial ties with the tobacco industry may not be adequate to give readers (and reviewers) a full picture of the author’s relationship with the tobacco industry. The documents also reveal that the industry funds research to enhance its credibility and endeavours to work with respected scientists to advance its goals. These findings question the adequacy of current journal policies regarding competing interest disclosures and the acceptability of tobacco industry funding for academic research.

  • ACS, American Cancer Society
  • BMJ, British Medical Journal
  • CIAR, Center for Indoor Air Research
  • CPS, Cancer Prevention Study
  • CTR, Council for Tobacco Research
  • JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association
  • SRRC, Philip Morris scientific research review committee
  • TRDRP, California Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program
  • academic industry relations
  • conflict of interest
  • tobacco smoke pollution

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  • Editor’s noteThis article replaces a previous version that was posted on the Tobacco Control website on 9 December 2004 and taken down on 11 February 2005.

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