Concerns about the slippery slope to loss of academic freedom and the impact on future fundraising activities also fueled the decision by the Stanford Faculty Senate to reject a ban on accepting research funding from the tobacco industry. A glance at institutions that do refuse any tobacco monies suggests this is not a concern: these Universities are all doing exceedingly well in terms of sponsored research and have not had other special interests pushing to impose further industry-specific funding bans. Academic freedom is alive and well, and faculty at these institutions can and do hold their heads high.
While I would have liked to have seen a different outcome, I am pleased the faculty were given the opportunity to discuss and vote on this matter. Perhaps some day, Philip Morris will realize they don’t need to spend billions of dollars building research facilities, buying researchers, and funding projects at academic medical centers around the world to achieve their lofty goal of “harm reduction”. Harm reduction would most immediately and completely and permanently come through the cessation of cigarette and chewing tobacco sales and marketing.
On the other hand, $25 million (such as Philip Morris just “donated” to UVa) buys a LOT of academic freedom.