Duke Accepts Tobacco Research Grant from Philip Morris

Duke University has accepted a $15-million grant from tobacco giant Philip Morris USA to research ways to help smokers quit, the Raleigh News & Observer reported June 19.

“We were cautious in considering whether to accept this grant or not. We would not want to be part of any whitewash effort,” said R. Sanders Williams, dean of the Duke medical school.

The university accepted the funds despite pleas from the American Medical Association and researchers to refuse grants from cigarette makers because the money comes from the sales of addictive and deadly products.

But officials with Duke said the money would allow expanded research into an area that doesn’t receive much funding. “The best way I can contribute to reducing disease and death from smoking is to devise new quitting methods. That’s desperately needed,” said Duke scientist Jed Rose, who heads the new Center for Nicotine and Smoking Cessation Research at Duke Medical Center.

The grant will support three smoking-cessation research areas in Raleigh, Charlotte, and Winston-Salem, N.C.

Adam Goldstein, associate professor of family medicine at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, questions the intent of the grant. “This cannot be ultimately good for public health, no matter the legitimacy of any science,” he said. “The industry is not interested in science, only success in the marketplace.”