Letter: Exclusion of tobacco industry from SRNT conference

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Letter: Exclusion of tobacco industry from SRNT conference
News release

30 July 2021

It was with great concern that we learnt of the decision by the Board of Directors of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) to ban employees of the tobacco industry from attending its annual conference in 2022.

We are respectfully asking you to reverse this decision for the reasons outlined below.

BAT’s scientists have been proud to share their research at the SRNT Annual Meetings for many years. Our participation has helped advance tobacco and nicotine science to the benefit of the Society, and ultimately, the public good.

We share in SRNT’s stated commitments to the open dissemination of rigorous, peer-reviewed nicotine and tobacco science, with the ultimate goal of reducing public health impact of tobacco use. 

However, your recent exclusion of employees of the tobacco industry and the contributions of tobacco industry scientists to dialogue at the Annual Meeting is contrary to your Code of Conduct and Guiding Principles.

This decision is not in line with the Society’s foundational “Purpose & Role”:

• Exclusion impedes the “generation and dissemination of new knowledge concerning nicotine and tobacco”. In an FDA-regulated market, the industry must routinely provide FDA regulators with scientific evidence about its products. As a result, some of the best science in the tobacco and nicotine space is being generated from tobacco companies. and,

• Exclusion undercuts SRNT’s commitment to “open science without bias,” “promoting scientific dialogue,” and “empowering members to make their own informed decisions.” The Board’s decision contradicts the evidence-based principles that underpin the U.S. policy approach, which prioritises science, irrespective of the source.

The actions of BAT are aligned with the SRNT values of transparency, commitment to maintaining public trust, and commitment to the public good. We were the first company to have a science website where we openly share our scientific data, and the first to welcome visitors to our R&D site. Our purpose, to build A Better Tomorrow™, is focused on reducing the public health impact of our business, and we are committed to ensuring that Tobacco Harm Reduction becomes a reality via scientifically substantiated alternative nicotine products. We have published more than 130 peer-reviewed scientific papers on reduced risk products, including six manuscripts in Nicotine & Tobacco Research which have all had high levels of usage and citations, indicating strong value to the community.

BAT is aligned with the SRNT Code of Conduct, and our employees that participate in SRNT conferences have always abided by SRNT rules.

In light of our concerns, we respectfully request that the SRNT Board reconsider its decision and reaffirm that “SRNT is committed to nicotine and tobacco researchers around the world.”  We ask that the Society recall its mission “to stimulate the generation and dissemination of new knowledge concerning nicotine in all its manifestations” by confirming that industry science will continue to be included in the body of science on nicotine and tobacco, as well as considered for publication through the robust peer review process in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

We hope that you will take into account the interests of the SRNT membership and the wider community, and reverse this backward step for science. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this decision further.

Kind regards
David O’Reilly
Director, Scientific Research



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