Aim The tobacco industry has hidden its involvement in the design, conduct and publication of scientific research articles and has used the articles to argue against tobacco regulation. The objective of this study is to examine tobacco industry involvement in the development of scientific books.
Design Qualitative analysis of previously secret internal tobacco industry documents retrieved from the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu). Information from the documents was supplemented with material from Internet searches, the National Center for Biotechnology Information Pubmed database and interviews with individuals involved in book publication.
Findings Between 1997 and 1999 the tobacco industry sponsored a monograph, entitled ‘Analytical Determination of Nicotine and Related Compounds and their Metabolites’, that examined the measurement and metabolism of nicotine. The tobacco industry recruited Elsevier Science to publish the monograph. Tobacco industry executives, lawyers and scientists reviewed the chapters. One use of the monograph was to stimulate collaborative efforts between academic and tobacco industry scientists. Another was to provide the book to a government regulatory agency reviewing the teratogenic effects of nicotine.
Conclusion Our findings show the breadth of tobacco industry engagement in scientific knowledge production and dissemination, and its motives for sponsoring scientific literature. The industry’s effort to gain credibility through collaboration with academic scientists raises questions regarding the ethics of accepting tobacco industry funding for publication. Scientists who collaborate on publications sponsored by the tobacco industry must consider the full implications of these joint efforts.