Tobacco industry funding policy

BMJ journals publish content which is free from financial ties to the tobacco industry. The principle of excluding content funded by the tobacco industry applies to all content. This is to avoid our journals being used in the service of industry to downplay the harms of tobacco and related products such as vapes.

Consequently, BMJ Journals exclude work funded wholly or partly by the tobacco industry. They also exclude work where the authors have personal financial ties with the tobacco industry. On occasion, editors may decide to make an exception such as to publish an opinion article from an individual who has worked in the tobacco industry. Judgement in some cases will be difficult.


The tobacco industry

Broadly the tobacco industry includes those organisations that are engaged in the growth, preparation for sale, shipment, advertisement, distribution and sales of tobacco and tobacco-related products such as e-cigarettes, vapes or smokeless tobacco. It includes any subsidiary, holding company or affiliate of the same and organisations supported by industry. An exception is general retail outlets, such as supermarkets.


There is variation in definition of the tobacco industry, the industry and its products change over time, and some products such as nicotine vapes may be used for harm minimisation. If in doubt about whether an organisation or product is part of the tobacco industry, or related to it, it should be declared for the editor to consider whether it is relevant for the purposes of BMJ’s policy.


How industry support is determined in journal content
Project funding

When uploading their content for consideration, the submitting author is asked to indicate whether their work was funded wholly or in part by the tobacco industry or tobacco-related subsidiary companies or organisations. Authors should also include information about funding for the work in the funding statement embedded in the content.


Personal financial interests

When uploading their content for consideration, submitting authors are also asked whether one or more authors had/has financial interests with tobacco companies or tobacco-related subsidiary companies or organisations, in line with ICMJE declarations of personal interests. In addition, editors inspect ICMJE forms of authors for work that investigates or discusses smoking-related behaviours or diseases or harms of products produced by the tobacco industry


If in doubt about whether an interest is or could be perceived to be related to the tobacco industry, it should be declared for the editor to consider.

Other considerations

Where post-publication concerns are raised about undeclared, partly declared, or unclear ties to the tobacco industry, and these are sufficiently substantiated, the journal will consider retracting the content because pre-publication knowledge of this project or personal funding would likely have led us to decline to publish the content. 

For content linked to research projects, the policy applies to all publications from the project such as protocols as well as to full research manuscripts. 

In the event that an organisation becomes supported by the industry during the course of the the work, this policy will typically apply to content which has not yet been accepted for publication at the time that the acquisition or support begins.

This policy was created in 2013. In 2024, it was revised to develop and broaden the content included in the policy, include personal financial interests and to include for more BMJ journals to adopt the policy.