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February 23, 1994

Smoke and Letters

Author Affiliations

Editor, Tobacco Control Michigan Department of Public Health Lansing
Deputy Editor, Tobacco Control University of Sydney Westmead, New South Wales, Australia

JAMA. 1994;271(8):583. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510320023011

To the Editor.  —We read with interest the Editorial by Dr Rennie1 concerning letters to the editor written by individuals affiliated with the tobacco industry. Rennie did a good job in explaining the industry's apparent motives in submitting these letters and in describing how the industry uses such published letters.Rennie states that "the editor must strive to see every side presented, to let the reader assess how substantial the arguments really are." The problem with this position is that it ignores the role of the editor in assessing the quality of the arguments.In deciding whether to publish a letter to the editor, journal editors must judge the quality of the evidence and argument in the letter, just as they make judgments about the quality of research papers they receive. When Rennie "lean[s] over backwards to ensure that rational criticism is published," does he lean over so far

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