Assessing whether to receive funding support from tobacco, alcohol, gambling and other dangerous consumption industries


Peter J. Adams, School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand. E-mail:


Aim  To examine the risks taken by health, research and community organizations when they opt to receive funding from dangerous consumption industries and to identify ways in which they might generate their own assessment of these risks.

Methods  Common risks associated with industry involvements are examined, along with potential barriers to self-reflection.

Results  Funds derived from tobacco, alcohol, gambling and other dangerous consumptions are accessed increasingly by public good organizations. The variety of risks these involvements incur place individuals and organizations somewhere along a continuum of moral jeopardy, stretching from those with minor involvements to those with unmanageable conflicts of interest. The concept of a ‘continuum’ is preferable to a ‘binary’ interpretation in that the latter tends to lock understandings into all-or-nothing positions, thereby discouraging reflection and discussion regarding ethical and moral issues. Active scrutiny of these risks can be assisted through strategies that promote ongoing self-assessment. This is illustrated in the application of criteria that help breakdown risks and provide guidance in deciding on the extent of involvement with industry funding.

Conclusion  The paper finishes with practical examples of educational and assessment strategies that could assist in reducing moral jeopardy.