Lawyer control of the tobacco industry's external research program. The Brown and Williamson documents

JAMA. 1995 Jul 19;274(3):241-7.


Objective: To examine the involvement of tobacco industry lawyers in the selection of tobacco industry scientific research projects and to examine how the research was used to influence public policy.

Data sources: Documents from Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corporation, the British American Tobacco Company (BAT), and other tobacco interests provided by an anonymous source, obtained from Congress, and received from the private papers of a former BAT officer.

Study selection: All available materials, including confidential reports regarding research and internal memoranda exchanged between tobacco industry lawyers.

Conclusions: The involvement of tobacco industry lawyers in the selection of scientific projects to be funded is in sharp contrast to the industry's public statements about its review process for its external research program. Scientific merit played little role in the selection of external research projects. The results of the projects were used to generate good publicity for the industry, to deflect attention away from tobacco use as a health danger, and to attempt, sometimes surreptitiously, to influence policymakers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Industry / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Liability, Legal
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Nicotiana*
  • Nicotine*
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • Public Health
  • Public Policy
  • Research* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Research* / organization & administration
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Substance-Related Disorders*
  • Truth Disclosure
  • United States


  • Nicotine