The importance of evidence in COI stories

Last week The Times was forced to publish an apology for a set of articles and a leader about a group of scientists and their alleged financial links to the tobacco industry.

“Tobacco giants fund vaping studies”, “Scientists wooed in charm offensive” and “Smoke in their eyes” were published on 12 October and have since beeen taken down.

The experts mentioned in The Times report included Professor David Nutt of Imperial College London and four other smoking cessation and addiction experts.

The apology was the opposite of mealy mouthed. Acknowledging that the scientists “are internationally respected for their longstanding global work to reduce smoking”, The Times said “Our report…implied that these experts had received funding for research into e-cigarettes. We accept that this was wrong and that their work has not been tainted by the influence of tobacco industry funding. We apologise for our errors and omissions and for the embarrassment caused.”

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