Tobacco giant drops demand to see research on teenage smokers

The world's largest tobacco company has backed away from its demands to see thousands of confidential interviews with British teenagers gathered as part of a university research project into children's attitudes to smoking.

Philip Morris International, the makers of Marlboro, has quietly dropped its Freedom of Information request to see the interviews held by researchers at Stirling University, after the company was widely condemned following revelations by The Independent in September.

The tobacco company had to respond to the university's refusal to publish the interviews within 40 working days. Because Philip Morris has not responded within the required deadline, its two FoI requests have effectively lapsed – meaning that the company will now have to make a fresh application if it wants to pursue the matter.

"Over 40 days have elapsed since Philip Morris last communicated with the University of Stirling regarding research into smoking. On this basis we now regard that the correspondence on this particular request is now closed," the university said in a statement.

Philip Morris International attempted to make its first FoI request anonymously in September 2009, through the London law firm Clifford Chance. However, the Scottish information commissioner, Kevin Dunion, rejected the request on the grounds that Clifford Chance had to name its client – a legal clause not available under English law.

Under its own name, the tobacco giant then put in two further requests to Stirling's Institute for Social Marketing, led by Professor Gerard Hastings who said that Philip Morris wanted access to "everything we had ever done" on the attitudes and behaviour of children towards smoking and tobacco promotion.

"These are confidential comments about how youngsters feel about tobacco marketing. This is the sort of research that would get a tobacco company into trouble if it did it itself," Professor Hastings told The Independent this year.

The university initially refused the requests on the grounds that the claims were vexatious, which was rejected by Mr Dunion. It then claimed it would be too costly and time consuming, but Philip Morris even offered to pay for the added costs, an offer which the university refused.

Although the interviews are anonymised and the names of the children kept confidential, Professor Hastings said there was an understanding with the interviewees and their parents that the content of the interviews would remain confidential and would be shared only among university researchers.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living