This site deals only with the corporate corruption of science, and makes no inference about the motives or activities of individuals involved.
There are many reasons why individuals become embroiled in corporate corruption activities - from political zealotry to over-enthusiastic activism; from gullibility to greed.
Please read the OVERVIEW carefully, and make up your own mind.
The fake McGill University ETS Symposium
In 1989, Andrew Whist was at the head of the Philip Morris International Corporate Affairs department/ He had been given virtully a free hand to run any major scientific scam possible to counter the threat posed by Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS ... passive smoking) from anti-smoking activists.
Whist operated directly under RW (Bill) Murray, the CEO of PM International, and below Murray was the obvious rising star in the Philip Morris group, Geoff Bible. Murray and Bible were long-term colleagues and both came from Australian.
Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) had become the major concern of the cigarette companies after 1981 when it first became scientifically established that passive smoking by non-smokers did have significant health effects. Until this time the concern had been mainly with direct smoking and the consequences of lung-cancer and coronary heart disease (CHD).
Once anti-smoking publicity, packet labelling, and government-run QUIT campaigns had made smokers aware of the dangers, it was possible for the cigarette companies to defend their continued sales and promotional activities on the basis that it was the smokers who made the free-choice to smoke. For this reason they maintained a stable of biomedical scientists to bolster their claims that nicotine wasn't "addictive" but simply "habituating". 'Freedom to chose' was a constant corporate mantra which was central to any democracy, so they said..
However passive smoking couldn't be defended in the same simplistic way. Non-smokers in an air-conditioned office weren't free to breathe non-tobacco-polluted air. So the industry had to attack the health claims being made about ETS in indoor air in a number of new ways:
- Firstly they tried to discount the evidence in the major studies which linked passive smoking to asthma and bronchitis in children, and with increased rates of premature death among the older members of the society. [Tobacco obviously has synergistic effects with other pollutants]. These premature deaths from older people living in tobacco-polluted environments were only revealed by statistical methods in carefully controlled epidemiological research.
- Secondly, they attacked the discipline of epidemiology itself. It was true that anyone could call themselves an 'epidemiologist' and do statistical research on populations — much of which was dubious in the techniques and controls used.
- Thirdly, they attacked the statistical standards used in epidemiology and in other biomedical research. Through constant repetition they managed to convince many journalists that the standards used by the EPA and other regulators needed to be set much higher before any action to limit indoor air-pollution was taken. They also held some fake symposia where well-paid science-for-sale entrepreneurs and a few tame consultants created a new standard called "Good Epidemiology Practices" or GEP — and then turned their lobbyists loose to force this through legislatures in America and Europe, on all health-regulatory agencies.
- Forthly, they hired a number of ventilation companies to produce fake readings in office buildings around the world to bolster tobacco-industry claims that tobacco smoke was only a minor factor in indoor air pollution. These companies measured and analysed indoor air quality (IAQ) and advised on air-conditioning equipment maintenance, refurbishing and replacement. They were paid for this work by the building owner or lessee, but these payment were unknowingly supplemented by the Tobacco Institute which also referred possible clients; gave the tame ventilation companies well-funded public-relations services; printed their brochures; and paid substantial amounts for their executives to make media tours promoting the idea that the buildings were 'sick' and that smoking bans were not the answer.
- Lastly, they hired both overt and covert 'consultants' among academics, scientists and medical experts to 'bend' the scientific evidence in support of the industry.
- Overt consultants and grantees were those who already had substantial and exposed links to tobacco companies through funding of previous research or services provided for various task. When questioned, they would always maintain that they were "independent" of tobacco industry influences and demand acceptance of the high-ethical standards of their scientific calling as proof that they were not being manipulated. Amazingly, these protestations of purity still carry a lot of weight with some people.
- Covert consultants came to be known in the industry as "WhiteCoats". They were 'sleepers' who were not paid by retainer, but simply for surreptitious work done, according to a fee schedule. To make more money required them to be self-motivating; perhaps to find an opportunity to write a letter to the editor of a scientific journal attacking some anti-tobacco research, or to make a speech at scientific conference, or to appear as an 'independent' scientist at some local ordinance hearing or legislative inquiry into (say) workplace smoking bans.
In mid-1989 Andrew Whist and his team at PMI's Corporate Affairs were well along the way to mounting what was, at that time, the most expensive disinformation excise any tobacco company had undertaken to discount the scientific evidence against ETS. Whist must have had preliminary discussions with Hamish Maxwell and Bill Murray (and maybe also with Geoff Bible) to progress this far in his planning, because he'd already managed to convince McGill University in Montreal, Canada, to host the conference, and he was well along the path of organising consultants and WhiteCoats from around the world to attend.
The primary aim of the conference was to generate a selected/edited book from the proceedings of the conference, and to publish this book through their own astroturf, the International Institute of Health & Development (IIHD). The primary job of the IIHD was to edit and translate the material into many languages, print thousands of copies, and have them distributed around the world as a de facto textbook on indoor air quality. Paul and Laura Jordan Dietrich and David Morse, who jointly ran the IIHD for Philip Morris (supposedly based in the Catholic University in Washington, and also in Geneva Switzerland) were to be given the task of handling the publishing and distribution. They also pretended to 'Sponsor' the conference.
Training New Recruits:
The secondary aim of the conference was to train many of the newly-recruited WhiteCoats in the range of problems associated with indoor air (some had no knowledge of the subject, whatsoever) giving them pat-answers to any objections. They would also get to mix and make friends with many of the old lags of the industry — consultants who were able to sprout industry propaganda spontaneously and compulsively, and act as advisors in the future.
The third aim was to generate some IAQ and ETS credentials for scientists who had never studied the science, and had no background in research — especially those from Asia [Asian Whitecoats] where such work was in its infancy. They were encouraged to act as presenters at some of the workshops, and material was prepared for them by the Philip Morris scientists and PR experts. The fact that the spoke at an international conference in Montreal, and that their speech was published in the conference proceedings by the International Institute for Health & Development gave them pseudo-scientific credentials as ETS/IAQ experts.
|Need to Know|
|It is important to realise that while, in retrospect, we know that all involved in the McGill University symposium were in the pay of the tobacco industry, the scientists themselves would not have known this. The tobacco industry, like the CIA and MI6, had a "need-to-know" policy which would have been extended to most of those participating.|
Many of the more gullible, would therefore have believed this was a genuine conference of air-quality scientists, and probably gone away with the impression that the tobacco industry was correct, and that the experts did not believe that passive smoking could cause health problems.
Those from the ARIA [consultants] group in the UK would probably have known that all the others from ARIA were on the take, but they would not necessarily know about the US scientists from IAPAG or the Asian WhiteCoats. Such matters were kept strictly confidential.
• See Original Document
1989 Aug 8: At the time this letter was written Andrew Whist was Senior Vice President of Philip Morris International and Director of the Corporate Affairs division. Bill Murray, his Australian mentor, was President and CEO of Philip Morris International, and one step down from Hamish Maxwell who sat at the top of the company as Chairman and CEO of the Philip Morris Group (which included Kraft General Foods, etc.)
Also included was an rough conference outline with all of their main tame scientists pencilled in to speak on specific (Philip Morris-chosen) subjects. This provides an "A-list' of tobacco's captured scientists.
This memorandum summarizes our earlier conversation concerning the ETS symposium at McGill University.
What we have been planning over the past several days is a major international symposium which would be both closed and private until the release, shortly after the symposium, of a monograph summarizing the proceedings. [In other words, no one who had not been specifically invited would even know about this conference until the printed proceedings began to circulate.]
Our goal, of course, is to produce an impressive document that would have the potential of neutralizing two reports that are scheduled to be released near the end of this year — an ETS risk assessment that is being prepared by EPA and a detailed "assessment of ETS health effects under preparation, at Rockefeller University, supervised by Professor Spitzer (an avowed anti-smoker). [The EPA had been circulating their assessment that passive smoking (ETS) was a Grade A carcinogen and asking for comment before it was formally released.]
The EPA and Spitzer reports would cause substantial damage unless they are somehow countered. McGill University has tentatively agreed to host our symposium and Professor Donald Ecobichon of McGill, who has been consulting with UK, has agreed to serve as one of the symposium's organisers, Dr Uberla of West Germany will be approached as a possible co-organizer.
Our current thinking is to utilize a presentation/panel discussion format for the symposium. Specifically, we plan to select a keynote presenter for each of the major ETS health effects issues. The keynote presentations would open by describing what is known and not known about ETS and various health effects — for example, nonsmoker lung cancer. They would offer recommendations concerning research that should be undertaken to answer the as-yet unanswered questions.
Such presentations should serve two related purposes:
- first, underscore the extent to which claims currently being made about ETS are unwarranted and,
- second make a positive contribution to those who are prepared to approach the ETS issue objectively, by charting the course of future research.
We propose to follow each of the keynote presentations with a panel discussion, drawing upon a number of our consultants with the appropriate expertise.
We will transcribe and edit the panel discussions for inclusion in the monograph which will be published immediately following the symposium. Our experience in attending International scientific meetings is that some of the more valuable and pointed comments often are made, not in formal presentations, but in the informal discussions that follow. We would like to take advantage of that experience in the proposed symposium.
You will find attached a draft agenda, as well as a list of possible participants, A couple of comments about the attachment may be appropriate. You will note that we have 1isted as possible participants approximately 70 individual consulting scientists. We have not yet begun to make contacts with the scientists whose names appear on the list so that we cannot yet confirm their availability or willingness to participate.
As you know, we are planning to hold the symposium in late October or very early November of this year — a schedule that is dictated, of course, by the tentative release dates of the EPA and Spitzer reports. We expect that very tight schedule to present some problems, but we are hopeful that we will be able to overcome them.
We have not yet developed firm budget figures for the symposium. If we are able ultimately to get 60 or 65 scientists to participate, the cost (not including publishing costs) should be in the neighborhood of $450,000 to $500,000 — a projection that would be substantially below the cost of both the EPA and Spitzer projects.
Having made that point, we certainly are aware that the cost we have projected is hardly insignificant and we therefore would recommend that RJR [RJ Reynolds], and perhaps the TI [Tobacco Institute] in the United States, be asked to bear a portion of the symposium's cost. Specifically, we would suggest that PM , RJR and the TI each be asked to shoulder one-third of the symposium's cost.
For obvious reasons, we believe that RJR and the TI would be prepared to accept the cost-sharing that we are proposing for a number of reasons. We would be comfortable working with RJR and TI personnel on the project and are reasonably confident that neither the RJR nor TI project representatives would be other than helpful and fully supportive.
Given the magnitude of this project, and the short lead time that confronts us, a great deal of work will be required on our part beginning almost immediately. Chuck Lister of Covington & Burling, London, is ready to supervise the efforts of the scientists who agree to participate from our EEC/EEMA [European Economic Community & East Europe, Middle East and Africa divisions of PM Europe] consulting groups, with assistance being provided by Keith Teel and Brad Smith in their London office, John Rupp will q– take responsibility for participating consultants from united Stater,, Canada and Asia, working with Clausen Ely, Welinda SioWx and Dav id ni 11 i ngs of Cov ington and Burling'^ Washington office. Dr. Phil Witorsch our United States consultant, will provide whatever technical assistance we might require.
We have not attempted in this memo to set forth in a comprehensive manner all the items that we have under discussion concerning the meeting or all of the issues that need to be resolved to ensure its success. Thus, we need to make sure that the publisher wc select is prepared to guarantee an almost unprecedented quick: turnaround on the symposium monograph. I intend to talk to Leon Hertz about this once I get the green light from you.
We also need to think further about the best way of distributing the monograph, making sure that we reach the appropriate audiences in just the right way before the EPA and Spitzer reports are released. These are not mere details, but of fundamental importance to the entire enterprise.
The long and the short of it is that I think we can succeed. I'd prefer not to be mired in bureaucracy — just get on with it with my little team (security is vital) and do the job as best we can.
Andrew Whist also ccd this document to Geoff Bible (next in line to the top job after Murray; WH "Bill" Webb, another trusted Australian in Philip Morris International's trusted executive group; and [R] Nelson Beane the top Smoking & Health coordinator for the domestic (PM USA) company.
1989 Sept 15: The control of this conference was played so close to the chest that an RJ Reynolds lawyer reported back on a Tobacco Institute's ETS Coordinating Committee meeting where this secret Philip Morris conference at McGill University had been discussed i confidence.
This conference is set for November 3 and 4 (1989). The planning has been done by [John] Rupp at the behest of Philip Morris International (the PM-USA representatives at the committee meeting had never heard of it). [That would have been Lee Pollack or Alex Holtzmanm ... or maybe he just played dumb!]
Rupp had discussed this conference in the past with me, Jim Goold, and Jeff Furr. It is now seen as having uses beyond the Canadian context, and it's going to be expensive ($500,000-$600,000) so Rupp will probably come to RJR, PM-USA, TI, or all of the above for financial aid.
Don Ecobichon, who has worked for Rupp and the Canadian industry before, has received permission to have the conference sponsored by the medical school at McGill. Ecobichon is on the faculty there.
The conference will be closed; attendance is by invitation only. There will be no pre-conference publicity, no publicity during the conference, and no post-conference press conference. They look for 50-70 attendees and have already received commitments from about 20 US scientists, 4—5 Asians, and 4—5 Europeans. Nearly all of the "[Academic scientists] first team" [Wu, Wexler, Hood, Gross, Hsi, Fleiss, Switzer] will attend, and in part it will serve as a continued training session for them.
With the exception of Nelson Beane, Philip Morris's domestic company executives had been kept in the dark about this sponsored million-dollar conference about to occur on their door-step. The other companies only found out about it via the lawyer John Rupp of Covington & Burling (who worked for all of the tobacco companies).
Jim Goold and Jeff Furr were RJ Reynold's lawyers who had been involved in the recruitment of Asian WhiteCoats along with Rupp, so he may have felt obliged to tell them he was using one of their joint recruits. This is an extreme case of the "Need to know principle".
Sponsors list. Speakers and participants
- Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
[This was the home of Donald Ecobichon, who was the main local administrator of the symposium.]
- Healthy Buildings International, Fairfax, Virginia, USA.
[HBI was a new name for the company known as ACVA, run by Gray Robertson, Peter Binnie and Simon Turner. They did fake indoor air testing and other propaganda work under a contract to the Tobacco Institute.]
- Institut Fresenius, Neuhof, Federal Republic of Germany
[A contract laboratory in Germany that was available to conduct either genuine or bent research for Philip Morris.]
- Institut Universitaire de Technologic de Dijon, University of Burgogne, Dijon, France
[The home base of one of their key European consultant, Professor Guy Crepat. He also was a member of the astroturf ARIA and IAI organisations.]
- Institute of Environmental and Industrial Medicine, Hanyang University, Seoul, Korea
[The home base of two Korean WhiteCoats, Yoon Shin Kim and Eung-Bai Shin]
- Institute for International Health and Development, Geneva, Switzerland
[This was the Washington-based astroturf run by lawyer-lobbyists David Morse and Paul Dietrich for Philip Morris.]
National Energy Management Institute, Alexandria, Virginia, USA.
[NEMI was a labor-union service organisation run for private profit by Frank Powell. It took Tobacco Institute money to do fake workplace air testing.]
- National Federation of Independent Business, Washington, DC,
[The NFIB was an umbrella group which included many stores selling cigarettes. They were regular allies of the tobacco industry in fighting to block tobacco regulations.]
- The National Federation of Independent Business Foundation, Washington,DC, USA.
[The Foundation provided money-laundary service to allow the NFIB to function politically without risking its tax-free status.]
- RCC Research and Consulting Company AG, Itingen, Switzerland
[The contract research company which employs Pamela Allen, a Basel medical reproduction consultant for Philip Morris.]
- School of Pharmacology, Sunderland Polytechnic, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, UK.
[The home base for Professor DF ('Max') Weetman, described by one top PM executive as "the most important WhiteCoat in Europe."]
The list of participants at this particular conference (you can't generalise with other conferences) consisted entirely of staff executives, lawyers and scientists from Philip Morris (plus a few from other companies) and contractors and WhiteCoats employed by the company overtly and covertly.
All names on this participants list are lackies for the tobacco industry — without exception.
Sponsors and the full proceedings:
1990 Jan 17: Minutes of the Executive Committee meeting of the Tobacco Institute.
Mr. Powers was requested by Mr. Chilcote to report on the international symposium on environmental tobacco smoke held at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, in November.
Mr. Powers reported that the proceedings had been published and were receiving wide distribution. He stated that a number of steps were being taken to further publicize the proceedings and the views expressed by the participating experts.
Although this was primarily a Philip Morris operation, both RJ Reynolds and the Tobacco Institute came in at the last minute and made by funding and other contributions. On Xmas Day 1989 the Tobacco Institute has made an "Additional Payment" to Philip Morris of $100,000 as its contribution to the McGill ETS Symposium. It was passed through the lawyers Covington & Burling.
This would probably be for the presence of their consultants. These all participated or did follow-up work: William Butler; Walter Decker; Donald Ecobichon; Garr Flamm; Joseph Fleiss; Howard Goodfellow, Gio Gori; Alan Gross; Lawrence Halfen, Larry Holcomb; Ronald Hood; Jolanda Janczewski; James Kilpatrick; Maxwell Layard; Peter N lee; Maurice LaVois; Trent Lewis; Nathan Mantel; Milton Meckler; Dennis Paustenbach; Joseph Pedelty; Jack Peterson; Mark Reasor; Gray Robertson; Sorell Schwartz; Jarnail Singh; Thomas Starr; Peter Switzer; Peter Voytek, David Weeks; Lawrence Wexler; Philip Witorsch, Ray Witorsch, Joseph Wu;
See consultant list: