San Francisco --The American Legacy Foundation (Legacy) has awarded $15 million to the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) to establish permanent internet access to tens of millions of pages of once-secret tobacco industry documents and to develop a center for scholarly study of the material. UCSF is a national leader in research examining tobacco industry practices as well as the health effects of tobacco.
The two new UCSF programs created by the award announced today (January 31) -- the American Legacy Foundation National Tobacco Documents Library and the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education -- are intended to improve and strengthen internet access to some 40 million pages of tobacco industry and related documents, to periodically add to the document collection, and to ensure that this rich source of information remains fully accessible to scholars, health advocates, journalists and the public. Most of the documents have been obtained through litigation led by state attorneys general.
The new online documents library is considered critical to continued research in this field since the tobacco industry can remove existing documents from the internet in 2010 under the terms of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between the industry and 46 state attorneys general. In addition, the industry-maintained web sites are notoriously difficult to use.
"Legacy hopes that the permanent home we are creating for the tobacco industry documents will open the door to anyone interested in exploring and exposing decades of industry tactics," said Cheryl G. Healton, Dr.PH, Legacy president and CEO.
"Early research in this important area, led by UCSF, has already revealed so much about how the tobacco industry operates behind the scenes, and this knowledge has forever changed public perception of tobacco products and the tobacco industry," she added.
Legacy is the national foundation created in March, 1999 as a result of the tobacco settlement agreement. The $15 million award to UCSF is the largest the organization has made since its inception.
The two new programs created by the Legacy gifts build on UCSF's ongoing tobacco control research and the UCSF Library's ground-breaking effort to make tobacco-related documents available for study on the internet. In 1995, the University of California, on behalf of the UCSF Library, successfully defended a lawsuit brought by Brown and Williamson Tobacco Co. that sought to remove industry documents from the library. After the university prevailed in the California Supreme Court, the library made 10,000 pages of material available on the internet - the first internet posting of such material. The library's current Tobacco Control Archives can be found at www.library.ucsf.edu/tobacco/
"The UCSF Library has been steadfast in protecting access to tobacco industry documents in its collection," said Karen Butter, assistant vice chancellor, library services and instruction technology. "The library's program has become the model that other institutions have adopted to assure full and efficient access that can translate into improved health and saved lives."
"We are pleased that the American Legacy Foundation has recognized our leadership and entrusted us with strengthening this potent area of scholarship," added Haile Debas, MD, dean of the UCSF School of Medicine and vice chancellor for medical affairs.
The new research center is intended to promote studies of tobacco-related documents and train scholars in this field. In addition to its historical and scholarly value, such research has already played a significant role in building public and political support for laws and regulations to reduce exposure to tobacco smoke. Access to tobacco industry documents has also aided anti-smoking litigation and advocacy.
Director of the academic center will be Stanton Glantz, PhD, UCSF professor of medicine and a prominent scholar of tobacco industry practices and of the effects of tobacco smoke. Working with Karen Butter in 1994 and 1995, Glantz played a leading role in making available for public scrutiny and study internal Brown and Williamson documents he had received from an anonymous source.
Butter will direct the new Legacy National Tobacco Documents Library.
"This gift is an incredible opportunity to develop a single portal to documents from six tobacco companies," she said. "By combining emerging digital library standards with highly effective online search systems, we will create a freely available resource for the world wide community."
In addition to its role as a national online repository for tobacco industry documents, the library will allow public access to Legacy Foundation-funded studies, reports and other publications dealing with the cause and prevention of youth tobacco use and other tobacco and health related issues.
Eighteen faculty in all four UCSF schools (pharmacy, medicine, nursing and dentistry) are engaged in tobacco control-related research, ranging from laboratory science to public policy, making UCSF one of the world's leading academic institutions for research in this field. The research enterprise is part of the Tobacco Control Program within UCSF's National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The American Legacy Foundation is a national, independent Washington D.C.-based foundation created by the November, 1998 Master Settlement Agreement. Legacy collaborates with organizations interested in decreasing tobacco consumption among all ages and populations nationwide and has established goals to reduce youth tobacco use, decrease exposure to second-hand smoke, increase successful quit rates and reduce disparities in access to prevention and cessation services and in exposure to secondhand smoke. Website: www.americanlegacy.org
A symposium -- "In Their Own Words: Using the Tobacco Industry's Documents to Unearth the Truth" -- will be held UCSF 4-5:30 pm, Wednesday, January 31, in celebration of the establishment of the Legacy National Tobacco Documents Library and the Tobacco Control Research and Education Center. Speakers are Christine O. Gregoire and Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey, III, who as state attorneys general played major roles in releasing internal tobacco industry documents for public scrutiny, and Derek Yach, Executive Director, Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, World Health Organization.