06/07/09 UK Smoking Conference Sponsored by Big Pharma

The pharmaceutical industry has yet again proven its vested interests in tobacco control, this time by sponsoring the UK National Smoking Cessation Conference.  Not just one company, but four large pharmaceutical companies were the major sponsors of the event. They were:

  • GlaxoSmithKline (which markets Wellbutrin and Zyban, Commit lozenges, Committed Quitters, NiQuitin CQ/Nicoderm, CQ/Nicabate, and Nicorette);
  • McNeil Products Ltd (which markets Nicorette products);
  • Novartis (which markets Nicotinell and Habitrol);
    and
  • Pfizer (which markets Chantix, Nicotrol NS, and Nicotrol Inhaler).

As Michael Siegel wrote on his blog:

In addition to the overall conference being sponsored by Big Pharma, a number of individual scientific sessions were also sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. For example, the lunch talk on approaches to smoking cessation was sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline. A dinner talk on educating smoking cessation personnel was sponsored by Pfizer. A session on the importance of support in relapse was sponsored by McNeil. And a symposium on best practices was sponsored by Novartis and its Nicotinell product.

If you look at the topics discussed at the conference, you’ll note that the entire focus is not on policies to promote smoking cessation, but instead is on …

… you guessed it …

… pharmaceutical treatment of nicotine dependence.

This is not a scientific conference at all. It is basically a huge marketing and public relations opportunity for the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture or market smoking cessation products.

Given the extent of the sponsorship — of both individual sessions and the entire conference — by Big Pharma, there is simply no way that this conference could have offered a scientifically objective and appropriate treatment of policy issues related to promoting and enhancing smoking cessation.

So to reiterate once again, Big Pharma likes smokers who give up because they buy their products. Big Pharma has lots of money and it uses it to fund anti-smoking studies and sponsor smoking events, in an attempt to demonise and ostracise smokers thus prompting them to try and stop smoking, in turn funding Big Pharma.

That is the real message that should be sent out across the media and in our schools; that the anti-smoking movement is corrupt, fraudulent, and without merit.

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