Source of Research Funding Influences Studies on Health Effects of Environmental Tobacco Smoke

From 1994 to 1997, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, San Francisco, examined the quality of research articles on the health effects of "passive" or environmental tobacco smoke and assessed the potential influence of this research on public and scientific opinion.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national program Tobacco Policy Research and Evaluation Program.

Key Findings

The study's findings, reported below, are from the Winter 1997 issue of Tobacco Control.

  • The study provided evidence that peer-reviewed articles on health effects of passive smoke were superior in quality to symposium articles, which were often industry-sponsored and rarely peer reviewed.
  • The study concluded that non-peer-reviewed symposium articles should not be used in scientific, legal, or policy settings unless their quality has been independently assessed.
  • According to this study, creating doubt and maintaining controversy about scientific findings has been part of the tobacco industry's strategy that effectively countered media coverage stating passive smoking is harmful.