University Rejects Tobacco Research Funding

The University of California (UC) Berkeley’s School of Public Health will not accept tobacco-industry funds to conduct research, the San Francisco Chronicle reported May 15.

The school decided to decline the donations because of the increasing death rate caused by smoking. “Cigarette smoking kills 440,000 Americans a year,” said Dean Stephen Shortell. “A thousand of those deaths are estimated to be infants. It’s a pretty evil product. Worldwide, over 4 million people died from tobacco use in 2000.”

Brendan McCormick, spokesman for tobacco giant Philip Morris USA, said the ban was “shortsighted.”

“Our belief is that the more research dollars that can go to people who can help reduce the harm associated with our product, the better,” he said.

Although the school has not taken any tobacco money in the past, Shortell said the policy is intended as a “public statement.”

About six other schools of public health have adopted similar policies, including those at Harvard and Johns Hopkins universities.