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Frank G Colby
[ Dr PhD]
— The chief scientific recruiter and science-intelligence gatherer for RJ Reynolds. He focussed on European white-coats and scientific witnesses. He later worked as an independent head-hunter and gossip-mongerer. —
Frank Colby was generally seen by the tobacco-scientific community as a partly-paranoid, fiercely anti-smoker, out-of-date tobacco scientist in the pre-war scientific tradition. He clearly enjoyed trouping around Europe gathering gossip, going to intermniable meetings, and offering opinions on everything scientific or political.
However his rantings often couldn't be easily dismissed, because his observations were sometimes more astute than those of other scientists and executives.
Frank Colby worked for RJ Reynolds for most of his working life after joining the company 1951, but, in the early 1990s he inexplicably resigned and began to free-lance,
He offered his services as an independent scientific witness for use by the defendants in death-by-cigarette court cases through the major tobacco law firms. He also shopped intelligence from one company to another ... to its competitors ... and generally spent his time gossiping with researchers involved with health research and the development of new products. He came to be treated with suspicion by scientists at many cigarette companies.
The Frontline program on PBS tried to interview him at one time and laboriously plowed through his depositions as part of their research. They revealed that the Frank G. Colby & Associates, his 'independent' consulting company, was actually funded by RJ Reynolds. So the suspicion was probably well-founded.
In various depositions for court-cases, he consistently maintained that any apparent connection between smoking and health consequences were unproven, and denied that anyone had ever died from lung-cancer or emphysemia caused by smoking cigarettes.
He was a scientific maverick in the old tradition — loyal to RJ Reynolds, and stubbon in maintaining his ossified opinions. However he probably knew more about the cigarette research activities in Germany, Central and Eastern Europe than any other American cigarette executive, mainly because he appears to have travelled for more than half of his working life.
Clearly, he was also a frustrated Walter-Mitty-like spy-master who relished the intrigues, the surrepticious deals, and the covert operations. His suggestions to tobacco executives show that any concepts of ethics or morality had clearly passed him by.
|PUFF PIECE (c) 1990 |
|Dr Frank G Colby is Associate Director of Scientific Issues in the Research and Development Department of RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
He did his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, obtaining his DSc in organic chemistry in 1941. After a stay in Cuba and employment in the chemical industry in the United States, he joined RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company in 1951.
His main interest include scientific information on all aspects of the tobacco industry and, more recently, especially smoking and health.
1981 Feb 12: Frank Colby of RJR had a meeting with Dr Antoine Artho of ASFC [The Swiss Tobacco Institute] in Basel Switzerland. Artho had previously been director of R&D at Burrus, Swiss cigarette manufacturer.
On my own initiative I suggested to Dr Artho that the present grant approval system of medical research farmed out by the Swiss Association lead for the Association, in my judgment, to the worst of both worlds.
On the one hand, since the Association and its scientists get involved in — but do not control — the design of the experiments of the various projects, the Association is directly tied to the outcome of the research. Within today's political climate this means that if the results are unfavorable from the Industry's point of view, they are placing the Association in double jeopardy; if the results are favorable they will, for obvious reasons, lack credibility.
The other part of the "worst of two worlds" is that the Association has absolutely no control over the publication of the results, even if the execution of a project should turn out to be deficient. I suggested therefore, on my own initiative, the following alternative, which closely resembles the current practice in Germany.
The Swiss Association currently has one, non-Industry affiliated outside consultant, Dr. [Karl] Baettig of the "Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule" (approximately the equivalent of MIT for Switzerland); in other words, the research projects are assessed by a "research council" of one.
I suggested that the Association should attempt to recruit an advisory council of at least five highly reputable scientists, specializing in various areas of the smoking and health controversies, and that these potential council members should be affiliated with different Universities and other scientific institutions.
They would pass on whether or not grants would be issued within the limitations of an overall annual budget; but otherwise, only principles of scientific soundness and integrity, as judged by the council and not any affiliates of the Association, should decide whether or not a grant will be made.
The action of these council members would also be restricted in that they could not assign more than a specific percentage (in my judgment probably not more than fifty percent) of all grants to themselves or to their immediate associates.
[This last 'hook' of ripping off 50% for themselves would guarantee that the money was only allocated to tobacco-friendly researchers, since their continued place at the money-trough depended up the system working in the industry's favor]
1981 May 20: Frank Colby of RJ Reynolds has written to Max Crohn, an RJR lawyer involved in Smoking & Health disinformation. He restates a suggestion he had made verbally earlier....
That top executives of the Tobacco Industry should get together with leaders of other industries which are incriminated in the media as allegedly "causing" cancers and other diseases.
For example, in 1979 a textbook was published by EPSTEIN ("The Politics of Cancer" — Doubleday), accusing the chemical industry to be allegedly the "cause" of various cancers. Some members of the chemical industry responded by trying to put the blame on smoking.
Similarly, unfortunately, some of our friends at times are trying to shift the blame for lung cancer, etc., alleged to be caused by cigarette smoking, for example, onto industrial and other air "pollution".
Recently the textile and asbestos industries tried to "exonerate" their industries by again accusing cigarette smoking.
In my judgment this is totally counter-productive for all concened. That is why I am proposing again, this time in writing, that leaders of the Tobacco Industry, and, if necessary RJR alone, consult on this with the leaders of other industries "affected".
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