BMJ editor resigns after university accepts tobacco money

May 17, 2001

News: Editor resigns from post after tobacco gift

Dr Richard Smith, editor of the BMJ, has resigned from his position as professor of medical journalism at the University of Nottingham, following its acceptance of £3.8m from British American Tobacco (BAT) to fund an international centre for the study of corporate social responsibility.

The decision was made by readers, who were asked to vote on whether the university should return the money and whether Dr Smith should resign as professor of medical journalism if it didn't.

Of 1075 people who voted online during 4-10 May, 84% were in favour of the university returning the money and 54% felt that Dr Smith should resign if it refused.

In a letter to Sir Colin Campbell, the university's vice chancellor, Dr Smith describes the university's acceptance of the money as "a serious mistake and has damaged the university." He explains that the reason the vote on whether he should resign was much closer than the vote on returning the money was "because people were divided over whether I should dissociate myself from the University or stay in position and argue my case."

"I am resigning both because I said that I would do what the BMJ's readers said I should do and because I've argued so strongly that the University shouldn't have taken this money," he writes.

A full copy of the letter will be available on at 00:01 hours, Friday 18 May 2001 (UK time).

Richard Smith, Editor, BMJ, BMA House, London, UK Email:


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