Academic ban on tobacco

14Mar09

The FT weekend article on tobacco ban and tobacco research has caught my attention for several reasons.

First of all, it is widely acknowledged that tobacco is not healthy, but why isolate the industry? There are market forces and business ethics involved. BAT (British American Tobacco) has been involved in research, pouring money and resources into discovering new and better ways for smokers to deal with tobacco use. The academia are reluctant to collaborate and aid this research, the effect being in a way harmful to research itself.

In a Europe which promotes freedom of speech, there should be freedom of research as well. A better way of dealing with the “rage” against tobacco companies, would be to encourage ethics in the industry. Tobacco ethics? How does that sound? In a free-market how can companies be banned from promoting themselves? Again, talk about business ethics…

The article really gave me the impression of a “stigmata” approach to the actions of companies like BAT. Wouldn’t it be more fruitful to engage in working together for better research outcomes, than by banning it altogether? – the research that is. And anyway, as long as there are smokers, the market will function one way or another.. I myself am not one, but if chocolate proved to be harmful to human health, would you ban research on finding ways to diminish its effects? It’s almost a paradox.

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