The faculty of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) last Thursday approved a decision not to accept any research funding from tobacco companies and their subsidiaries, opening the way for the school to receive funds from the 1998 settlement of states’ lawsuits against the tobacco industry. The move formalizes an unofficial policy that has existed since 1998.
The motion, originally proposed by HSPH Dean Barry R. Bloom, precludes research funding from tobacco manufacturers and all companies owned by the industry, including those that do not themselves make tobacco products.
“I believe the decision by the faculty represents a powerful statement from public health professionals that we all must focus on efforts to prevent the addiction and terrible consequences of tobacco,” Bloom said in a statement after the vote.
The adoption of the policy will allow HSPH to receive funding from the American Legacy Foundation, a public research group established by the 1998 settlement of the case brought by 46 states against the tobacco industry.
The Legacy Foundation has set aside $2.5 million for their Scholarship, Teaching, and Education for Tobacco Use Prevention (STEP UP) Fund, which will be used to provide individual research funding for faculty and students of schools of public health, including HSPH—however, the funding is only available if a school refuses to accept grants from tobacco companies.
In Nov. 2001, the deans of the 31 universities that make up the American Schools of Public Health—including Harvard—unanimously agreed to adopt policies rejecting further donations from the tobacco industry at their respective institutions.
Harvard has long wrestled with its ties to funding from the tobacco industry. In 1989, then-President Derek C. Bok announced the University would sell all of its stock in tobacco companies.
Last Thursday’s decision, which reads “The School of Public Health will not accept any grant or anything else of value from any tobacco manufacturer, distributor, or other tobacco-related company,” was largely moot. HSPH has not accepted a tobacco-related donation since 1997.
The final grant from the tobacco industry was a $20,000 unrestricted gift to the Center for Risk Analysis from Kraft, a subsidiary of tobacco giant Phillip Morris, and a supporter of the Center since 1992. That funding was not directed at any specific project.
Most of the Harvard School of Public Health’s research grants come from the federal government’s National Institutes of Health. Of the $125.3 million in research grants received by the school in 2001, $101 million was federal money.
—Staff writer J. Hale Russell can be reached at email@example.com.