Vested Interests in Addiction Research and Policy
‘To prove this is the industry's best hope’: big tobacco's support of research on the genetics of nicotine addiction
Article first published online: 6 MAY 2010
© 2010 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
Volume 105, Issue 6, pages 974–983, June 2010
How to Cite
Gundle, K. R., Dingel, M. J. and Koenig, B. A. (2010), ‘To prove this is the industry's best hope’: big tobacco's support of research on the genetics of nicotine addiction. Addiction, 105: 974–983. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.02940.x
- Issue published online: 6 MAY 2010
- Article first published online: 6 MAY 2010
- Submitted 15 April 2009; initial review completed 20 June 2009; final version accepted 22 December 2009
- legacy tobacco documents;
- tobacco industry
Background New molecular techniques focus a genetic lens upon nicotine addiction. Given the medical and economic costs associated with smoking, innovative approaches to smoking cessation and prevention must be pursued; but can sound research be manipulated by the tobacco industry?
Methodology The chronological narrative of this paper was created using iterative reviews of primary sources (the Legacy Tobacco Documents), supplemented with secondary literature to provide a broader context. The empirical data inform an ethics and policy analysis of tobacco industry-funded research.
Findings The search for a genetic basis for smoking is consistent with industry's decades-long plan to deflect responsibility away from the tobacco companies and onto individuals' genetic constitutions. Internal documents reveal long-standing support for genetic research as a strategy to relieve the tobacco industry of its legal responsibility for tobacco-related disease.
Conclusions Industry may turn the findings of genetics to its own ends, changing strategy from creating a ‘safe’ cigarette to defining a ‘safe’ smoker.