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William Walter (Bill) Reid
(Seems generally to be known as 'WW Reid') WW Reid was a tobacco industry research & development scientist who worked in Australia and the UK, and was supported in his later nicotine work at the Imperial College of London University by Philip Morris.
He appears to have always been involved in the reasonably-legitimate side of the company's research, and not involved in any propaganda or disinformation operations.
The work of WW Reid provides an excellent example of a genuine scientist working in the area of tobacco research who, while clearly not overly bothered by the health problems cigarettes posed, is also strictly scientific in his approach.
There is no evidence of Reid engaging in any disinformation operations, or vocally supporting the industry's products, or attacking its critics, or denigrating other scientists who have discovered adverse health effects. He is simply doing scientific research on a biological product, and seeking to understand its actions and reactions.
He is certainly no whistleblower, or crusader. And this is one of the main problems.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing."
1958 Mar 28: WW "Bill" Reid, Harry R Bentley and DGI "Geoff" Fenton were three scientists from the UK who toured the USA and Canada and held a series of discussions re biological research. Reid was then working for the cigarette company, Carreras. The three scientists represented the UK's TMSC (Tobacco Manufacturers' Scientific Committee) and were essentially meeting with the US industry's TIRC to review the state of the science of smoking & health.
1958 Apr 17: - May 12 Report on Visit to USA and Canada by Bentley, Felton & Reid. Made to the TMSC (Tobacco Manufacturers Scientific Council in the UK). This is a long and fascinating report; it gives a good feeling for the knowledge and attitudes of the scientists working within the companies.
From our contacts in U.S.A. and Canada we sought information on the following : -
- the extent to which it is accepted that cigarette smoke "causes" lung cancer,
- up to date evidence as to the carcinogenicity of smoke condensates to animal tissues,
- the extent to which extrapolation from animals to man is justified,
- the relative usefulness of different biological tests,
- the progress made towards identifying any active fraction is smoke condensates,
- the attitude of the tobacco isdustry in USA and Canada to biological research ,
- the extent to which TMSC would be justified in doing biological research and the form which this should take, and
- the practical methodology of biological testing.
"CAUSATIQN" OF LUNG CANCER
With one exception ( HSN Greene ) the individuals whom we met believed that smoking causes lung cancer if by `causation" we mean any chain of events which leads finally to lung cancer and which involves smoking as an indispensable link. In the U.S.A. only Berkson, apparently, is now prepared to doubt the statistical evidence and his reasoning is nowhere thought to be sound.
[Wm C] Hueper of the National Cancer Institute accepts that cigarette smoke is capable of causing lung cancer but believes that, as compared with other environmental carcinogens. the contribution of smoking to the total mortality from lung cancer is being greatly exaggerated.
There is no support for the view that in the same individual the tendency to smoke and to be susceptible to lung cancer are each independently an outward espression of some third unknown factor. [This is a direct condemnation of the constitutional hypothesis being promoted by Carl Seltzer , Hans Eysenck and Philip Burch , with the tobacco lobby help.]
HOW GENUINE WAS THE INDUSTRY RESEARCH?
It is pretty certain that in the 1950s and '60s most of the tobacco industry's own scientists were quite genuine in their efforts to unravel the question of smoking and health. The executives were playing PR games, but at this time, the scientists generally trusted the information they were receiving from other tobacco industry sources, and accepted evidence from scientists in other countries.
In general, the belief of the scientists at this time was that the health problems were genuine. However they thought these could be overcome by identifying the harmful components in the smoke and devising techniques to remove them from the tobacco. This was the high-point in American 'scientism' with the first men on the moon — and many people believed science could overcome any problem.
The driving industry concept of developing a 'safe cigarette' lasted for another ten or so years — albeit with with diminishing certainty — and with more strident public-relations and lobbying being introduced to balance the progressive lack of conviction.
1962: Smoking & Health: Policy on Research. He was now working for the BAT subsidiary in Australia (Wills/Amatil). He is reported at a Southampton BAT R&D conference.
1965 July 19: He has written to his old friend Bob Seligman at Philip Morris, and Seligman is replying. 'Bill' Reid is now the Chief Scientist with BAT Australia (WD&HO Wills later Amatil), in Sydney. These are two old cigarette R&D scientists.
1965 Dec: This is a handwritten note. He writes to Seligman who he has recently met again at a conference, together with many old tobacco friends. He is now an Organic Chemistry fellow at University of Western Australia and intends to stay three years (spending 7 months of each year) either researching or lecturing in psycho-chemistry, and the remainder of his time in Europe and USA. In Europe he will work at the University of London with his old friend Professor L Hough of Queen Elizabeth College.
He is looking for financial support for his university department to buy equipment, and to cover expenses.
1969 Feb 3: A letter from Lars Friberg , re the Cederlog/Friberg Virgin Islands Twins Conference list mentions him as a possible Chairman [probably being used as cover].
Friberg wants $20,000 from Hocket at the CTR to run the "twin symposium  following the intentions drawn up at our meeting in New York." They now have a list of 17 to invite (over and above Cederlof and Friberg and "those observers who the Council for Tobacco Research may wish to invite."
The tentative list in the CTR handwritten notes has:
St Thomas Island was suggested as the venue.
- DD Reid as Chairman
- Carl Seltzer — Harvard School of Public Health — a long term tobacco scientific lackey who set up the US end of the Swedish-American twin studies.
- Rune Cederlof — Karolinska Institute, working for the tobacco companies on the twin studies with Friberg.
- Lars Friberg — mentor and associate of Cederlof but sometimes ambivalent about supporting tobacco. However he is keen to go on the Australian, Tahiti, Virgin/Puerto Rico tour for Philip Morris.
- Torbjorn Lundman — Karolinska Institute, who worked with Cederlof.
- Bengt Pernow , a cardiologist — Karolinska Institute, worked with Cederlof.
- Frederick Epstein — Uni of Michigan Professor of Public Health
- Brian MacMahon — Professor, Harvard School of Public Health — Epidemiologist,
- Zenek Hrubeck — NRC Washington, which owns the US twin register.
- William G Cochran or George Hutchinson (Hutcheson?) — Unknown
- Stanford Chodock — unknown
- John Goldsmith — Californian Department of Health — a famous air pollution activist (promoted LA laws enforcing catalytic converters)
- Kurt Enslein — regular tobacco industry Special Projects #4 grant receiver Statistical and computer work. No obvious university links.
- Gunnar Biorck — Karolinska Institute, worked with Cederlof.
- Henry Blackburn — researcher in Physiological Hygiene, University of Minnesota
- Jeremiah Stamler — cardiac researcher, Chicago Health Research Foundation
- William Kannel or [Thomas] Dawber — Framingham study principles,and at the Univerity of Boston
Between three and five on the above list were known anti-tobacco scientists, but they were outweighed by the tobacco-friendly scientists when supported by the Swedes from the Karolinska Institute.
John Goldsmith prepared the report on this meeting, but before it was published, it was handed to tobacco scientist Carl Seltzer for rewriting.
1970 July 17: Wakeham writes that Reid has been doing some interesting work on "Biosynthiesis of natural products in tobacco" and recommends that PM support his work and that "he should be invited to give a talk at the Research Center."
1970 July 20: Osdene and Seligman had been passing on information about his research to their chief Helmut Wakeham, and he has written to Reid.
I am writing to say that we are very interested In the work, and are favorably inclined to extending some support for your graduate students. We have been very much interested in the use of radio tracer techniques to determine precursor-product relationships in cigaret smoke.
The key members of the Philip Morris Research Department, Wakeham, Seligman and Osdene, will all be in Hamburg in September:
If you could come over to Hamburg, we could discuss In more detail your program and the kind of support which we might give.
1970 July 20: Wakeham writes to him at the Chateau de Clerans in France. Note His paper on Nicotine published while he was at the Queen Elizabeth College, credits a colleague, Mme. J. Wilhelmsen Reid, Chateau-de-Clerans, St . Leon-sur-Vezere, in France. Later letters show him resident here.
1970 Oct 24: He is writing to Tom Osdene at Philip Morris. They have met in Hamburg and PM has agreed to support his reseach by funding a graduate student. This letter gives the details of his research proposal — a form of contract. He has just returned to England from some time in France and is now using isotopes to select tobacco with lipids.
1972 Sept 6: Tom Osdene, as a former student of the Imperial College of London University is writing to a Professor there inviting him to a Science Symposium. He says: "Presently we are also supporting some work with Dr WW Reid, Queen Elizabeth College, London."