Carl Phillips, seen in an interview in 2005, has left his tobacco research position at the University of Alberta. ((CBC) )

A University of Alberta researcher who came to the university's School of Public Health with a $1.5-million grant from a U.S. tobacco firm has left his position.

"As part of the mutually agreeable settlement, I voluntarily completely ended my affiliation with the UASPH and moved my research lab from there," Carl Phillips wrote in an email to the CBC.

Phillips began his research at the university in November 2005 with a grant from U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company. At the time, it was wholly owned by tobacco giant Phillip Morris International.

Phillips researched the health effects of smokeless tobacco, and later the use of electronic cigarettes.

"My only remaining involvement," he wrote, "takes the form of collaborations on a few ongoing projects with colleagues who are still there."  

The decision brought kudos from Les Hagen, who speaks for the lobby group Action on Smoking and Health.


Les Hagen, from Action on Smoking and Health, says the university did the right thing in allowing Phillips to leave the school. ((CBC))

"I think the university has done the right thing," he told CBC News, adding that tobacco companies benefit from the credibility that can come from association with universities.

"If they can get some academic institutions and individuals — academics — to somehow endorse or support the development of their products, they can use that credibility to help sell those products," he said.

University officials confirmed the departure, but refused further comment.