Research indicates that the evidential bases for many harm reduction policies targeting hazardous consumptions (including tobacco, alcohol and gambling) have been distorted by commercial industries that derive revenue from such commodities. These distortions are best illustrated by research on tobacco and alcohol, which indicates similar tactics used by industries to determine favourable policy environments through engineering of evidence, among other approaches. Although there is concern that gambling research is similarly vulnerable to commercial interests, the relevant literature lags far behind other fields and the aim of this paper is to increase familiarity with tactics used by industries for influencing research. It summarises the conceptual and empirical bases for expecting conflicts between goals of public health and companies that profit from hazardous consumptions. It also summarises evidence describing practices deployed by tobacco corporations, which include third-party techniques and the selective funding of research to manufacture doubt and deflect attention away from the consequences of smoking. It then reviews both early and emerging evidence indicating similar strategies used by alcohol industry, and uses this literature to view practices of the gambling industry. It argues that parallels regarding selective funding of research and third-party techniques provide grounds for strong concern about commercial influences on gambling research, and implementation of precautionary approaches to management of vested interests.
- Vested interests