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Research from tobacco industry affiliated authors: need for particular vigilance
  1. S Chapman
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor Simon Chapman
 School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Building A27, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia; simonchapmanhealth.usyd.edu.au

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Is tobacco industry sponsored science ever likely to be trustworthy?

This issue of the Tobacco Control contains an account by Professor Eiji Yano1 complementing an earlier report2 about the disturbing circumstances of his association in the early 1990s with tobacco industry lawyers Covington and Burling—specifically, with the company’s then employee Christopher Proctor, now head of science and regulation at British American Tobacco (BAT). Dr Proctor and Mr Peter Lee (whom Yano accuses of publishing his research without his consent and distorting its meaning) were given an opportunity to respond to Yano’s allegations. Lee has done so,3 but Proctor offered no comment.

Proctor forwarded to Yano—the principal investigator on the study—a succession of drafts of a paper that he hoped Yano would then agree to “author”. Lee advised me via email that as statistical consultant to the project he made “considerable” contributions to these drafts which did not bear his name. When Yano refused to agree with the paper based on the data he had collected, Proctor cut him from authorship and elevated long time industry consultant Lee from a status originally planned to be undeclared4 to that of sole author. Unlike Lee who had a long history of association with the industry, Yano satisfied its strategic purpose of being a cleanskin researcher who, according to the consultant recruitment plan, had “no previous connection with tobacco companies and no previous record on the primary issue [of secondhand smoke]”.5 Proctor got rather more than he bargained for, with the earlier published account2 of the trail of internal documents alerting Yano to the fate of his work, and stimulating him to set the record straight.

GHOST AUTHORSHIP

It is hard to imagine a more flagrant example of attempted ghost authorship, a practice described by the World Association of Medical …

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