Credit: Credit: Follow the Money

The tobacco industry buys billions in access to the medical world

By Mathilde de Jeu, Irene van den Berg, | 1 June, 2024

The four largest tobacco companies have already invested more than $21 billion in this century altogether, in at least 33 companies making products for the health and lifestyle market. This investment wave is part of a strategy by tobacco companies which are securing their future ‘beyond nicotine’.

A remarkable feature is that they are investing in products aimed at conditions and discomforts associated with smoking. In addition, a lot of money is going into replacements for traditional smoking products, such as vapes. The e-cigarette – popular among young people – releases metals such as lead and even uranium and will potentially prove very harmful over time.

Through the pharmaceutical sector, the tobacco industry also invests money into scientific research on smoking disorders, drugs, therapies and aids for people who want to get rid of their smoking addiction or have already fallen ill from it.

Journalists from The Investigative Desk and The British Medical Journal found 876 medical-science studies involving one or more scientists who received some form of funding from a tobacco company.

By no means always are scientists aware of the source of the money funding their work. For example, during his PhD research, a Dutch physician-researcher was caught off guard by the fact that the original backer – a manufacturer of devices for asthma patients – had been taken over by tobacco giant Philip Morris International.

Read the article at Follow the Money (in Dutch).

This production was a collaboration with John Hansen of Danish newspaper Politiken and was made possible with the support of Journalismfund Europe.

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