One of the world’s most controversial anti-tobacco activists may be facing a new dose of notoriety today, as he joins a growing list of prominent men accused of Sexual Harassment. Professor Stanton Glantz of the University of California, San Francisco, is facing claims that he abused several female researchers over the past two years.

Glantz has long been a divisive figure in the field of tobacco control. He has been a prominent anti-smoking activist since the 1970s, and a professor of cardiology at UCSF for decades – but he has never studied science or medicine.

His degrees and Ph.D. are all in engineering subjects and his only work experience outside academia was a short stint at a NASA aeronautical facility in the 1970s.

A controversial record

What really made Glantz’s name as an anti-smoking campaigner was his landmark 2003 study of heart attack rates in Helena, Montana. Glantz claimed that when the city introduced a smoking ban for six months in 2002, it led to a 60 percent reduction in heart attacks – and, when the ban was abandoned following a legal challenge, rates returned to their previous levels. This research motivated many other cities to introduce their own smoking bans.

However, the Helena study has faced increasing criticism in recent years as flaws in Glantz’s methods emerge.

It turned out that the dramatic conclusions were based on an average reduction of only three heart attacks per month – and that the city has seen similar temporary falls at times when there wasn’t a smoking ban in place. Glantz has also been accused of cherry-picking the dates of the study to get the results he wanted.

In recent years Glantz has emerged as a fanatical opponent of electronic cigarettes, and again his research has been controversial.

He has been variously accused of using incorrect methods, drawing conclusions that the data doesn’t support, and simply making things up.

Serious allegations

Now Eunice Neeley, who carried out postdoctoral research for Glantz from September 2015 through to March this year, claims she was subjected to sustained “misogynistic, sexually and racially insensitive” abuse by the 71-year-old professor.

According to Neeley, Glantz stared at her breasts during her initial interview, then for the next two years bombarded her with unwanted physical attention, discussed other women’s sex lives with her and made frequent references to pornography.

Neeley says the abuse also affected other women in the lab, who were made intensely uncomfortable by Glantz’s behavior. In March she complained about the abuse and asked to be assigned to a new mentor. This was approved, but Glantz insisted that he still had the right to be named as an author of her work. In April, when UCSF told him that he was being investigated for harassment, he retaliated by taking Neeley’s name off a paper she had written and claimed the credit for it himself.

Eventually, the renegade professor made the work environment at UCSF so hostile for Neeley that she was forced to quit the prestigious medical school. Now she’s seeking substantial damages for the emotional distress she’s been caused. It looks like Stanton Glantz has finally stirred up one controversy too many.