Back to the Future: Tobacco Industry Interference, Evidence and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (2008)

Authors: Melanie Wakefield and Jonathan Liberman

The publication of a special communication by Ronald Davis in this issue (see page 211)1 about a report on the effect of tobacco advertising bans (“the Boddewyn report”) that was in fact ghost-written by British American Tobacco caused one of us to experience a memory flashback to the mid-1980s. At that time, MW was working as a research officer in a state health department in Adelaide, South Australia. I (MW) distinctly remember being given the Boddewyn report to provide comment on to my health minister’s office. Even though I was then an inexperienced researcher, I could see that the report was seriously flawed. Because it was apparently the work of such a prestigious-sounding individual and organisation, I became deeply concerned that it could actually influence government policy. I prepared several pages of critique pointing out the problems with the report, added a concise summary, and sent it back up to the minister’s office. I received no further requests about the report, but it was the first time I was shocked by the extent of misinformation from sources allied with the tobacco industry. That situation was one of several that drew me more closely into a career in tobacco control research.

Read more: Tobacco Control