Faculty members at the School of Public Health (SPH) voted Thursday (Jan. 24) not to accept research funding from tobacco manufacturers and their subsidiaries. Because of an incompatibility with the public health mission, such funds had not been accepted at the School as a general practice for a number of years. The vote puts current practice into official policy and is consistent with Harvard University’s 13-year-old policy of not holding stock in tobacco companies.
Smoking is recognized by public health researchers as the largest preventable cause of disease and death in the United States. Tobacco use leads to increased risk of many chronic diseases including coronary heart disease and cancer. The American Heart Association estimates that 430,700 deaths annually in the United States are due to smoking.
“I believe the decision by the faculty represents a powerful statement from public health professionals that we all must focus on efforts to prevent the addiction and terrible consequences of tobacco,” said SPH Dean Barry R. Bloom.
The decision that “The School of Public Health will not accept any grant or anything else of value from any tobacco manufacturer, distributor, or other tobacco-related company” meets general policy recently agreed to by the deans of the 31 American schools of public health in order to be able to distribute research funds from the American Legacy Foundation. This public health foundation was established by the tobacco industry’s 1998 settlement of lawsuits brought by a coalition of attorneys general in 46 states and five U.S. territories.