Saturday 21 August 2021 2:20 pm

Tobacco staff banned from global smoking research conference for 'unprofessional' behaviour

The Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco have banned tobacco industry employees from attending its annual conference, following complaints about the “problematic behaviour” of tabacco staff.

The decision to ban tobacco company employees from the conference came after a two-year long review by the international body, according to a report in The Times.

It followed a rise in the number of complaints from members about “perceived unprofessional or problematic behaviour” by employees in the tobacco sector who reportedly disrespected presenters during Q&A sessions and attended members-only meetings. Tobacco industry staff were also accused of using the international non-profit organisation’s name in press releases to imply its endorsement of various company findings.

The involvement of the tobacco industry in the professional association’s research has been a controversial issue for some time but the reported ban has added fuel to the flame.

The news comes as a planned takeover of a British respiratory drugmaker, Vectura, by the maker of Marlboro, Philip Morris International, has come under fire.

In a joint letter more than 20 health bodies urged the board to reject Philip Morris’ bid, saying it put the future of the pharmaceutical firm under threat.

The groups warned a takeover by PMI raised ethical issues that could damage Vectura’s “future commercial viability as a company dedicated to improving respiratory health”.

Philip Morris has defended its takeover plans, saying it highlighted the company’s commitment to moving away from tobacco products.