UCT Council adopts policy on tobacco funding

30 Jan 2020 - 12:45

In November last year, REEP reported that the Senate recommended that the University of Cape Town (UCT) should adopt a policy that disallows any person employed by UCT to accept funding from the tobacco industry.

On Friday 22 November 2019, UCT's Senate unanimously supported a policy to not allow any UCT staff and affiliates to accept any research funding from the tobacco industry. This decision was the result of a long process that had its genesis in the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health accepting a grant from the PMI-sponsored Foundation for a Smoke-free World last year, to create a so-called Centre of Excellence. A large number of people inside and outside the university, including a number of REEP’s funders and other stakeholders, put pressure on the university to reject any financial links to the tobacco industry. The matter became especially acute when a potential funder of REEP walked away from us, on the grounds that it may cause reputational harm to them if they funded a unit that was associated with a university that accepted money from the tobacco industry.1

On 7 December 2020 the matter was presented to the Council of UCT, the highest decision-making body.2 Council discussed the position statement endorsed by Senate on the acceptance of research funding from organisations whose assets are derived from the production or promotion of the use of tobacco. Council approved, with modification, the following statement:

“UCT and affiliates may not accept funding from any organisation or foundation with known links to entities whose income is directly derived from the production of tobacco products for use in any form of smoking or other activity that can result in nicotine addiction, or in the promotion of any such products. Funding from companies that own shares in tobacco companies as part of their standard investment portfolio is acceptable. UCT staff are not prevented from receiving funding from philanthropic foundations whose funding has historically been derived from the tobacco industry but whose current philanthropy is not connected to the tobacco industry in any way, or to tobacco or nicotine products of any sort.”

The policy is now in force.

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References

1Dancing with the devil: UCT stubs out tobacco-funded unit; 16 October 2019 | Joan van Dyk, https://bhekisisa.org/article/2019-10-16-dancing-with-the-devil-uct-snubs-out-tobacco-funded-unit/

2 Report on UCT Council meeting of 7 December; 12 December 2019 | From the Chair’s Desk, www.news.uct.ac.za/article/-2019-12-12-report-on-uct-council-meeting-of-7-december