Philip Morris wants to get its hands on university research into what makes kids smoke

Britain's The Independent newspaper http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/exclusive-smoked-out-tobacco-giants-war-on-science-2347254.html that tobacco giant Philip Morris International is using legal maneuvers in the UK to try it get its hands on research at Stirling University into how children and teenagers respond to tobacco marketing. (The Guardian published a related article.)

The university is fighting the demand.

Professor Gerard Hastings is quoted saying, "They wanted everything we had ever done on this. 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.

"What is more, these kids have been reassured that only bona fide researchers will have access to their data. No way can Philip Morris fit into that definition."

The Independent explains that "The researchers at Stirling have built up an extensive database of interviews with 5,500 teenagers to analyse their attitudes to cigarette marketing, packaging and shop displays. 'It is a big dataset now because we've been in the field several times talking to between 1,000 and 2,000 young people each time -- going down to the age of 11 and up to the age of 16,' Professor Hastings said. 'These kids are often saying things they don't want their parents to know. It's very sensitive.'"

Such information would be very useful to any effort by Philip Morris to market to potential young smokers. Since only a tiny fraction of smokers take up the habit as adults, getting teens addicted is clearly vital to the future viability of the tobacco industry, no matter what Philip Morris might say publicly about its benign intentions.

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