Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

"A delicate diplomatic situation": tobacco industry efforts to gain control of the Framingham Study.



The Framingham Heart Study (henceforth Framingham) is among the gold standards for epidemiological research. Being a prospective cohort study of 5,000+ men and women, it provided early findings about the causes of coronary heart disease (CHD), following a cohort over the course of 24 years. After US government funding ended, the tobacco industry funded Council for Tobacco Research (CTR) provided continued funding for analyses related to smoking.


This study sought to understand the tobacco industry's motivation and activities in funding Framingham.

Study design and setting

We analyzed previously undisclosed tobacco industry documents, conducting iterative searches of the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (, and assembled a historical case study.


CTR funded Framingham to obtain full access to Framingham data. CTR planned for long-time industry consultant Carl Seltzer to reanalyze them to suggest that tobacco-related morbidity and mortality primarily resulted from "constitutional" factors, such as age or ethnicity. Once data were obtained, CTR terminated funding for the Framingham principal investigator, who disagreed with Seltzer. Seltzer's critical analyses of subsequently published work by the Framingham team created confusion about the association between CHD and cigarette smoking.


Researchers accepting tobacco industry funding risk losing control of data, analysis, and publication.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View