Asian Regional Tobacco Industry Science Team

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

The Asian Regional Tobacco Industry Science Team (ARTIST) was a group of Asian science-for-sale academics set up by Philip Morris to counteract arguments against workplace smoking restrictions and general Indoor air quality (IAQ) issues. The name changed subtely: it was "Science Team" in the early years, but became "Scientitists Team" by 1996. [2]

The group was established in 1989 and the first suggested name was Asian Pacific Association for Indoor Air Quality (APAIAQ) which was chosen in September 1989. It only lasted a year under this name - probably because there was an organisation known as the Asian Pacific Association for the Control of Tobacco. The ARTIST name seems to have come later . The members of ARTIST were initially academic and medical "consultants" who had been recruited across Asia as part of Philip Morris' Asian WhiteCoats program -- later it was resurrected as a meeting of employed Asian tobacco scientists.

The establishment of ARTIST and APAIAQ came from the major recruiting drive to find credible 'Independent academics' by John Rupp from the tobacco law firm Covington & Burling. (Later the name APAIAQ was used for what appears to be a later organisation.) These WhiteCoats were recruited around the world by Covington & Burling lawyers with the help of Myron Weinberg who ran the WashTech recruitment service.

In Asia, Rupp worked together with the two top tobacco UK scientists from the Associates for Research in Indoor Air (ARIA) group: Professor Roger Perry and Dr. George Leslie. They initially set up the English-European group ARIA, followed by EGIL, a Swedish/Scandinavian acronym for Expert Group for Indoor Air. Then APAIAQ / ARTIST was created during the industry's extension of systematic scientific corruption into Asia under the Asian ETS Consultant project.

WhiteCoats Orgs.
IAPAG   (Nth America)
ARIA   (UK & Europe)
EGIL   (Scandanavia)
EMIES (E Med/N.Africa)
ARTIST   (S.E. Asia)
APTRC   (East Asia)
APAIAQ (Asia-Pacific)


Like ARIA, ARTIST provided the academic and medical consultants with "distance" from the organizing tobacco companies. As consultants working through this organization they could claim:

  • not to be employed by the tobacco industry ... and have any payments laundered through the ARTIST channels.
  • since the organization promoted itself as a general environmental consultancy, the individuals were no longer obviously attached just to "tobacco," even if this was the only non-academic work that they did.
  • as a member of ARTIST, these second-rate academics gained some status from the affiliation, and from the implied status of "consultant".
  • members of ARTIST had a vested interest in supporting each other, and in citing each other's research in their own research papers. This was also promoted via their attendance at tobacco loaded 'scientific conferences' where they were listed to speak, and their speeches were included in published proceedings, as if they had been 'peer-reviewed.'
  • through ARTIST, they had any needed expert support through links to the tobacco industry's consultants, lawyers, scientists and databases.

Documents & Timelines

1989 July 31 John Rupp's first report on the Asian ETS Project which was to recruit the Whitecoats. [3]

1989 Sep 27 One of John Rupp's consultant-recruitment reports contains the earliest mention of the establishment of an Asian consultants group along ARIA lines, It emphasizes the problems they faced, and the need to train these people to the point where they had some credibility on the main issue of passive smoking and health consequences.

He includes in this report the upcoming McGill University ETS Symposium

On November 3 and 4, 1989, approximately 60 of our consultant scientists from the United States, Canada, Asia and Western Europe will convene for a private symposium devoted to ETS and risk assessment.

The purpose of the symposium is to produce an authoritative monograph that will serve toneutralize two reports that are scheduled to be released near the end of this year --

  • an ETS risk assessment that is being prepared by the U .S . Environmental Protection Agency and
  • a detailed assessment of ETS health effects that is being prepared in Canada under Professor Spitzer's supervision.
He then writes a blatant lie, knowing that the tobacco industry will appreciate his strict rule of maintaining the lie, even when writing to the liars.

The ETS symposium is being sponsored by the Institute for International Health and Development (IIHD)as part of its continuing series of public health symposia, the first of which was devoted to AIDS

However he does spell out that the purpose of having the Asian recruits in attendance is to begin the process of giving them some credibility in the published literature. We have not asked any of our Asian consultants to act as presenters but instead have requested that some of

them participate in selected panel discussions . Benito Reverente, Sarah Liao, Yoon Shin Kim and Lina Somera have agreed to do so. The symposium presents an ideal opportunity to expose the Asian consultants to the full range of issues and the most advanced current thinking on ETS and should bolster their confidence substantially . As the panel discussions will be transcribed and published alongside the keynote presentations, McGill will mark their first appearance in the scientific literature on ETS.

At this time the group was known only as the Asian ETS Consultants group. [4] <hr

The tobacco industry recruited academic and some general consulting scientists as ETS consultants. The only qualification needed was a willingness to work for the tobacco industry, and the ability to lie about qualifications and their independence.

After recruitment, they were trained in the basics so they had some semblance of expertise in the field of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) measurements or Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) health concerns and the consequences of smoking. They only needed enough to bamboozle politicians at inquiries, or avoid significant media scrutiny.

These freshmen-'experts' needed to be given manufactured citations and other pseudo-scientific credentials. The most obvious technique was to list them as speaker of discussants at scientific conference on indoor air pollution, and ensure that this was published in the proceedings. This was easy to arrange because the tobacco industry conducted sham closed-conferences fairly regularly with of its own mercenary scientists -- and they always published the proceedings as if they were genuine scientific publications (often in more than one langage).

At these conferences, the neophytes would be submerged with a group of like-minded mercenary academics and then installed inone of the industry's specialist pseudo-scientific associations. Membership of these (by-invitation-only) associations added to the WhiteCoats' standing in the scientific community, and the system allowed other well-paid members to 'peer-review' any research they might do for the industry. The organisations were well-funded and controlled through the lawyers Covington & Burling and were generally known by their initials:
Indoor Air Pollution Advisory Group set up within the Pharmacy Department of Georgetown University by Sorell Schwartz, Nancy Balter, and Philip Witorsch. IAPAG had a subsidiary (actually created earlier) called the CEHHT Center for Environmental Health and Human Toxicology (established 1982) provided literature collection services and providing testimony at legislative and regulatory hearings. It also acted as a laundry channel for payments and for specified research grants until 2000.[5]
ARIAAssociates for Research on Indoor Air. This was the main pseudo-association in the UK and Europe. It was founded by Professor Roger Perry (Imperial College) and a freelance consultant George B Leslie who ran it with the help of his wife. Professor Francis Roe was also a prominent member and Frank Lunau became its President.. Leslie and Perry became the major recruiters for the tobacco industry globally.
IAI Indoor Air International was an offshoot of ARIA run by Lanau, Leslie and his wife. It established itself as the organiser or co-organiser of so-called scientific conferences on air pollution/indoor air quality (IAQ) and environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) around the world. It also had its own scientific journal.
ISBE International Society of the Built Environment this is little more than a name-change from IAI - its successor. It was still an offshoot of ARIA run by George B Leslie and it organised so-called scientific conferences on IAQ and ETS.[6] In defending the Racketeering (RICO) Case the legal argument for the defense was that the ISBE had not been identified in the MSA, and therefore it could continue to operate. Unlike the CTR and Tobacco Institute it didn't need to be dissolved under the MSA agreement.[7]
EGIL Swedish for "Experts on Indoor Air". This was created by Roger Perry and ARIA for the Scandinavian tobacco industry. George Leslie used this pseudo-scientific association when recruiting in Scandinavia. It was under the control of Tors Malfors (aka Sven Eric Torbjørn Malmfors) who was a professor in toxicology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. EGIL eventually disbanded when members began to fight others over who had the rights to rip-off some clients.
EMIESEastern Mediterranean Indoor Environment Society run by Professor Aly Massoud of the Ain Sham University, Cairo
ARTISTAsian Regional Tobacco Industry Science Team This was the later name given to APAIAQ-- and it broke up in 1992. Later it was revived as a different type of organisation with employed tobacco scientists. Some members were toxicologist consultants, paid by the industry in some way.
APAIAQAsian Pacific Association for Indoor Air Quality was the first academic Asian WhiteCoats association. It was run by EHS Consultancy's Sarah Liao and Philip Morris's Donald S Harris in Hong Kong, and later became ARTIST. It was initially called the Asian ETS Project run by John Rupp of C&B.
AAOH SCIA The Standing Committee on Indoor Air was created by Malinee Wongphanich and Benito Reverente (both Asian WhiteCoats) who were successive presidents of the Asian Association for Occupational Health (AAOH). They used this Standing-Committee of AAOH to hide the payments for some Asian WhiteCoats.
APTRCThe Asia Pacific Tobacco Research Conference was put together in 2001, well after the Master Settlement Agreement. It was set up by the Swiss executives of Philip Morris (at FTR), using the company's Hong Kong branch: it ran a conference in Korea in 2002.

1990 John Rupp's report in early 1990:

5. Consulting group

Our EC [European Community] consultants formed a consulting group called ARIA (Associates for Research in Indoor Air) that has its own brochure and is offering consulting services to companies and governments on IAQ [indoor air quality] issues. The ARIA model has been followed on a smaller scale by Asian consultants. We hope both groups will extend the reach and effectiveness of our consultants' advice on IAQ matters.

6. Europe in Asia
Several of our European consultants have been deeply involved in helping to create the group of Asian consultants. One European has made several lengthy visits to Asia and has been the principal discoverer and recruiter of the Asian consultants. Several of the consultants have also been substantially involved in informing the Asians about ETS issues, as well as in providing other briefings on those issues in Asia. This has involved the loss of large blocks of time from their work in Europe, but the consultants involved are delighted that the Asian group has proved to be a successful offspring of their European programme. [1]

1990 Apr 30 Helmut Gaisch of FTR in Switzerland has sent in his Monthly Report for April 1990. It contains items:

IAQ Consultants
Ongoing work in collaboration with C&B on a range of Projects:

  • An ARIA meeting was held in England. The developments of the last six months were reviewed and teh plans for the future were re-adjusted.
  • Since the formation of the group, ARIA members have greatly increased their knowledge concerning the indoor environment, which is of considerable important, bearing in mind the fact that ARIA members are increasingly involved in matters of public policy.

He also reports on an ARIA meeting in England where the discussed the Health problems connected with pet birds"

A meeting with Dr Albert Bar who is now carrying the title of Secretary General of Indoor Air International (IAI) to discuss the future of the newly founded journal "of this international association".

This was followed by a visit to Neuchatel by Dr Torbjorn Malmfors of EGIL to discuss "EGIL's activities and plans for the future, and in particular EGIL's cooperation with ARIA and APAIAQ." (This appears to be the first time the term APAIAQ is used) [8]

1991 Dec 11 George Leslie is charging C&B for a recruitment visit to Thailand and Hong Kong for £8,250, The Invoice is titled INVOICE-APAIAQ'. This is the last time the title is used in tobacco documents. The term ARTIST appears in 1994.

1996 ARTIST appears to have wound down to the point where it then consisted of eight scientists representing Japan Tobacco, ICT, R.J. Reynolds, KT&G and Philip Morris. It claimed that it was nominally established "to exchange relevant scientific information and to coordinate programs" to fight smoking restrictions in the Asian region. ARTIST members met in Seoul, North Korea, in May 1996.[2]

1996 May 6-8The agenda and program for an Asia Pacific ETS Training program set up in Hong Kong. John Rupp of the tobacco lawyers Covington & Burling was in attendance and he ran one session on the American EPA and OSHA, and the International Agency for Research into Cancer. The remainder of the time was used by British-American Tobacco executives Sharon Boyse, Christopher Proctor and Martin Young. They spent the second day giving the group experience with TV interviews (five groups of six) and then with running a press conferernce on the third day. [9]

1996 May 24 A report by Roger ?? on the "1st Meeting of Asian Regional Tobacco Industry Scientists Team" (ARTIST) in the Hyatt Hotel Seoul. This appears to be an attempt to establish a Korean chapter, of what was already a defunct organisation. Instead of outside academics pretending to be 'independent', the organisation now appears to be employed tobacco science executives. Participants were: • Dr. Yukio Akiyama, Japan Tobacco • Dr. Charles Green, RJR • Dr. Lee, D-W, Korean Tobacco and Ginseng Research Institute • Dr. Yukio Ohkawa, Japan Tobacco • Dr. P.P. Singh, ITC Ltd. • Dr. Roger A. Walk, INBIFO, for Philip Morris [10]

Donna Staunton, the lawyer-lobbyist who ran the Australian Tobacco Institute before decamping to run Philip Morris Australia's Corporate Affairs disinformation unit, has been asked by Richard Carchman in the USA whether she can send someone suitable to this ARTIST meeting. She declines. She nominates Roger (Ruediger) Walk as her representative. [11]

Related Sourcewatch resources

External resources

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  1. Covington & Burling Report on the European Consultancy Programme Report. March 1, 1990. 14 pp. Bates No. 2500048956/8969
  2. Dr. Roger Walk, Philip Morris Plan for Asia 960000 / 970000 Report. 33 pp. Bates No. 2060565775/5807