Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

November 16th, 2013:

BMJ joins top medical journals in shunning misinformation propagated by tobacco-funded research

The British Medical Journal has announced that they “will no longer consider for publication any study that is partly or wholly funded by the tobacco industry. Our new policy is consistent with those of other journals including PLoS Medicine, PLoS One, PLoS Biology; Journal of Health Psychology; journals published by the American Thoracic Society; and BMJ’s own Tobacco Control.”

Misinformation is dangerous. Spreading false news and beliefs has always been common, and studies in methodologies of critical thinking and judgment has advanced rather drastically to train minds in discerning proper, credible works from the ranks of unreliable and biased writings.

Where techniques in security advance, techniques in breaking security will always be haunting, breaking a step or two ahead. Likewise with knowledge, even as critical thinking has improved, there will be charlatans taking advantage of weaknesses in methods of thought; posing the credibility of academic studies, they write convincing pieces of studies that are either worthless or, worse, intended to mislead readers into false believes and judgments.

The latter is what is happening with tobacco-funded ‘research’. Commissioned by research foundations created by tobacco firms and writing in the format of academic journals, tobacco-funded studies throw readers off-guard by using very analytical and scientifically-toned writing to ‘prove’ theories such as ‘No definite link between menthol flavours and youth smoking’ or ‘High tariffs linked to increased smuggling, which in turn funds criminal activity’. And in unfortunate moments, media agencies and journals sometimes get taken in and publish these writings to lend their reports a flavour of ‘balance’, adding false weight to the credibility of these writings and making it even harder for readers to make proper judgments on the truth of the matter.

The ban that BMJ and other medical journals impose on such tobacco-funded research is thus by no means ‘shutting out’ different opinions. Rather, the editorial boards are now much more aware of the ‘knowledge trap’ that such articles present; that by publishing such work alongside real scientific research, they unintentionally help tobacco fronts set such traps for their readers.

Click here to read the full post from the BMJ Group: