Center for Indoor Air Research

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

The Center for Indoor Air Research (CIAR) was a nonprofit organization formed in 1988 by the tobacco industry in response to increasing public concern over the health effects of secondhand tobacco smoke on nonsmokers. The industry was aware that it could not conduct or fund research into indoor air quality directly without causing the research results to lose credibility, thus the industry formed CIAR as a wholly separate entity to fund the research. The purpose of CIAR, as described in an internal Tobacco Institute document titled Minutes of meeting of the (Tobacco Institute) Executive Committee, December 10, 1987 was to "broaden research in the field of indoor air quality generally and expand interest beyond the misplaced emphasis solely on environmental tobacco smoke." CIAR claimed publicly to fund high-quality, independent scientific research into air quality issues. In the fall of 1996, however, a study was published in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law that evaluated work generated by CIAR. The study found that CIAR funded two types of projects for two different purposes: 1) peer-reviewed projects (most of which were unrelated to the effects of secondhand tobacco smoke) that were awarded based on recommendations of independent scientists, and 2) special projects that were awarded based on the recommendations of tobacco industry executives and that tended to yield results that supported tobacco industry positions minimizing and trivializing the health effects of secondhand tobacco smoke.

In a rambling letter written in 1993, John Rupp, counsel to the CIAR (and a member of the tobacco industry law firm Covington and Burling) wrote to Dr. Paul Sadler (a scientist with Imperial Tobacco, United Kingdom). Early in the letter, Rupp told Sadler that CIAR does not attempt to influence results published by the entities it funds. Later in the letter, however, Rupp remarked that,

..[T]he system in a number of countries...does not always guarantee the industry a fair hearing, even when the industry has solid scientific support for its position. But that is quite academic if the industry has not bothered to develop data tending to undermine the case for smoking restrictions. When we have done so, we have at least had a shot at convincing decision makers that the demands made by antismokers are excessive and scientifically unsupportable."

Rupp then added, "CIAR is a credible and effective vehicle for conducting the research that is needed to buttress the industry's position." [1]

The Center for Indoor Air Research was disbanded as a requirement of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between 46 United States Attorneys General and the American tobacco industry, but it was reincarnated in 2000 as Philip Morris External Research Program (PMERP). In her August 2006 final ruling in the U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit against the major American tobacco companies (Civil Action No. 99-2496 (GK) United States v. Philip Morris, et al) Judge Gladys Kessler of U.S. District Court concluded that,

Philip Morris established the PMERP in early 2000, using the same offices in Linthicum, Maryland, that formerly housed CIAR, employing many of the same individuals who were employed by CIAR, and even using the same phone numbers as CIAR had used. The program is administered by an entity called Research Management Group (RMG), set up in 2000 solely to manage the PMERP. RMG has never managed any other program. RMG is headed by Max Eisenberg, the former executive director of CIAR. [Section 3851]

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