"Dirty money is money" at University of Alberta


    EDMONTON, Jan. 24 /CNW/ - A national body of concerned students is 
troubled by the close relationship between the tobacco industry and the
University of Alberta, and at least one Board of Governor member's opinion on
    University of Alberta Board of Governors member Bruce Saville was
recently approached during a student protest regarding university ties to the
tobacco industry. Commenting on the protest, Mr. Saville justified the
University of Alberta's acceptance of tobacco funds by stating, "Dirty money
is money!"
    "Maintaining relationships with tobacco companies represents a conflict
of interest for universities," said Joanna Cohen, assistant professor of
public health sciences at the University of Toronto. "Given all that we now
know about the behaviours of these companies and the harms from their
products, it is irresponsible for universities to have ties to the tobacco
industry. These ties provide tobacco companies with credibility and
respectability by association, thus contributing to the maximization of
tobacco sales."
    The University of Alberta is heavily invested in tobacco industry stocks
and there are reports that tobacco money is currently funding research and
consultants. Although it is a public institution, the university does not
appear committed to transparency in all of their tobacco relationships,
including refusal to release the name of a professor affiliated with the
Department of Psychiatry who has acted as a consultant to tobacco industry
    "There are no longer any academic debates about the health consequences
of tobacco industry products. The case is closed," said Garfield Mahood,
executive director of the Non-Smokers' Rights Association. "Even the industry
concedes that its products kill when used as the manufacturer intends.
However, of greater importance, there should be absolutely no debate about the
acceptability of universities taking funds from Big Tobacco. Previously secret
tobacco industry documents show clearly how the industry has repeatedly used
university funding to facilitate tobacco industry disinformation and fraud."
    Education-Bringing Youth Tobacco Truths (E-BUTT), a student-led advocacy
group, has submitted a Freedom of Information and Protection request to
uncover the identity of a confirmed tobacco-funded industry consultant
employed at the university.
    "Universities are responsible for the moral growth and development of
their students," said Tyler Ward, executive director of E-BUTT. "By taking
dirty money from the tobacco industry, the University of Alberta is exhibiting
unethical behaviour. We call on the university to declare publicly that taking
'dirty money,' as board member Mr. Saville approves, is unacceptable and begin
a serious review of the decision to take the tobacco industry's 'dirty
    E-BUTT made waves a year ago by successfully petitioning the University
of Toronto to sell-off its tobacco industry holdings. The group is now
petitioning the University of Alberta to pass a comprehensive policy that ends
all relationships with the tobacco industry, including donations, research
grants, consultancy contracts and related investments. Supporters can sign the
online petition at http://www.PetitionOnline.com/uoatdp/.

    Direct Link to YouTube Video:

For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Tyler Ward, Executive Director,
Education-Bringing Youth Tobacco Truths (E-BUTT), (416) 912-7079,

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