The Government is reducing the size of the tobacco policy team in the Department of Health and closing most of the regional offices of tobacco control...
Improving public health is something that we all need to take seriously, and since the prevention of smoking has more potential to improve public health, and to do so quickly, than any other intervention, tobacco control should be a key government priority.
They say that the cost-cutting is surprising "given Lansley's wish to base policy on evidence" (stop giggling at the back). This all looks like standard rent-seeking, but what took my eye was this:
We declare that we have no conflicts of interest.
Really? Some people would say that working for a state-funded tobacco control group necessarily constitutes a competing interest if you're writing in support of state-funding of tobacco control groups. Be that as it may, we know that many of the authors have competing interests because they have already declared them on their website:
John Britton chairs the Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group and is a member of the board of trustees of Action on Smoking and Health.
Peter Hajek undertakes consultancy for and has received research funds from a number of companies developing and manufacturing smoking cessation products.
Paul Aveyard has accepted hospitality from the pharmaceutical industry. He has done consultancy and research work in smoking cessation for Pfizer, McNeil, and Xenova Biotechnology that has led to payments to him and his research account.
Linda Bauld is vice-chair of the Cancer Research UK Tobacco Advisory Group and serves as Scientific Adviser to the Department of Health on tobacco control.
Tim Coleman has, within the last 5 years, done occasional consultancy work for companies that manufacture NRT products (Johnson and Johnson, Pierre Fabre Laboratories). He has also advised a Public Relations company on the strength of the evidence for using Nicobloc as an aid for smoking cessation.
Robert West undertakes research and consultancy for companies that develop and manufacture smoking cessation medications. He has a share of a patent for a novel nicotine delivery device. He is a trustee of QUIT. His research is funded mostly by Cancer Research UK.
So what gives? Does The Lancet have a more relaxed policy on the declaration of competing interests thatn the UKTCS? Did the authors not consider their competing interests relevant in this instance? Or did they just forget?
Thanks for Michael McFadden for the tip.