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Addiction. 2007 Jun;102(6):979-88.

The impact of strategic funding by the tobacco industry of medical expert witnesses appearing for the defence in the Aho Finnish product liability case.

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  • 1University of Tampere/School of Public Health, Helsinki, Finland.



To identify and evaluate tobacco industry strategies to recruit medical expert witnesses.


A systematic search was made of internal tobacco industry documents available on the Internet and at British American Tobacco Guildford Depository. Litigation by a plaintiff with laryngeal cancer against the tobacco industry in Finland was used as a case study of tobacco industry strategies to manipulate science and its use and deployment in defending a product liability claim.


Thirty-three of 45 medical expert witnesses for the defence received research funding before or after testifying. One strategy was to employ those scientists as witnesses with whom the industry had worked since the 1960s. The older witnesses testified to the existence of a controversy which they had, in fact, helped to create. Those appearing in Helsinki District court apparently downplayed the importance of their involvement with the industry. Another strategy was the use of research funding to establish contacts with new potential witnesses, to strengthen existing contacts or to pay back helpful experts.


The tobacco industry funded the majority of expert witnesses appearing for it, beyond simple recompense for the time involved. This may have unconsciously influenced the testimony given by the witnesses. This funding should be considered in court, but links between experts and the industry were often downplayed or, in some cases, the financial ties were being forged at the time and were not revealed. It would be helpful to establish norms to guide courts to understand the influences exerted by the tobacco industry in the preparation of cases requiring expert evidence.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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