Christopher J. Proctor

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

Dr. Christopher J. Proctor was a Senior Scientific Advisor at Covington & Burling, USA. He also served as a Senior Research Scientist at British American Tobacco Ltd. Southampton prior to moving to Covington & Burling the American industry's main Washington DC law firm. In 2009, he was once again working for BAT as head of Science and Regulation at British American Tobacco.[1]

He was with BAT's Smoking Issues Department at least from November 1983 until (possibly) September 1994 -- then with C&B in the USA -- then back to BAT in the UK as "Senior Research Scientist". Proctor worked on 'managing issues' (a euphemism for the industry disinformation programs) at BAT in London and served as a key advisor to the executive in charge of scientific issues, Sharon Boyse. He also worked closely with AD Clive Turner who ran the Tobacco Advisory Council (TAC).

BAT/BATCo only had part-shares in some UK tobacco companies (it didn't manufacture cigarettes in the UK itself), and its main focus was its global tobacco-based conglomerate which stretched around the world. It also controlled Brown & Williamson Tobacco in the USA, Imperial Tobacco in Canada, Souza Cruz in Brazil, BAT Germany, and WD&HO Wills in Australia


Dr. Proctor served as a Senior Research Scientist at British American Tobacco Company. Ltd. in Southampton, UK, until late 1989 or early 1990. Between 1991 and 1994 he was working for the tobacco lawyers Covington and Burling in Washington, D.C. as Senior Scientific Adviser. In this capacity, he forwarded proposals for scientific research projects beneficial to the industry to executives at the major American tobacco companies. (Information derived from letterhead & signature comparisons.)

When Sharon Boyse left her position of Head of Smoking Issues at BATCo in October 1994, Chris Proctor returned to BAT and took her place on the International ETS Management Committee (IEMC) and other company and inter-company committees. [1]

Tobacco industry documents

While working as a senior scientist at BATCo, in 1989 Dr. Proctor wrote notes that describe efforts by Brown & Williamson, Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and the tobacco industry's law firm of Covington and Burling (C&B) to "consolidate a group of scientific consultants in Asia that will be willing to contribute to the debate on ETS issues." These efforts appear to be part of the Whitecoat Project and were sponsored by the three major American tobacco companies named above. These efforts to recruit industry consultants in Asia were coordinated by John Rupp, also of C&B, who also sought assistance from BAT for the efforts.

In the notes, Proctor discusses a scientific paper by a doctor at the University of Hong Kong named Linda Koo that suggested there was no clear association between lung cancer or bronchitis in non-smokers and their exposure to secondhand smoke. Proctor praises Koo and her work, saying "Both Koo's science and personality are of the highest quality...". He discusses how the industry could recruit Koo as a consultant while meeting her demands to be completely shielded from any direct association with the tobacco industry. Proctor writes, (on page 4): "Koo clearly would like funding, but is adamant that she must be entirely shielded from the tobacco industry. This, I believe, increases her value." Proctor discusses routing payments to Koo through an environmental consultant, Sarah Liao, of EHS Consultants, Hong Kong. Proctor writes, "In private, it was...agreed that Liao would be used as a route to fund Koo."

The document is demonstrative of how the American tobacco companies sought out scientists who would promote the industry's point of view in exchange for funding, and how these scientists sought to keep their financial relationship with the industry hiddent to preserve their integrity. Conversely, the industry also worked to preserve these scientists' appearance of independence to preserve the credibility of their work to the public. [2]

Documents & Timeline

1984 May 24 Proctor is at BAT Southampton, Group R&D Center [2]

1985 Dec 20 He is at BAT running the Safety Coordination Meeting [3]

1986 June 20 Meeting at the BAT(UK & Export) Ltd, Southampton Research & Development Laboratories. The Chairman is DK Thorpe. Proctor is speaking on "Special Analysis" (spectrographs, etc)

1991 Oct 15 Gio B Gori and Chris Proctor (who was then with Covington & Burling) had a meeting with Tom Borelli and Robert A Pages of Philip Morris. They were proposing a Confounder study [to find some promotable 'doubt' about epidemiological research] which would cost between $0.7 and $1.3 million.

1991 Dec 3 Robert A Pages writes to Steve Parrish and Tom Borelli about the Gori Confounders Proposal. Clausen Ely a lawyer at Covington & Burling has copied them in on the Gori proposal for a $1.3 million study into possible 'confounders' in anti-smoking epidemiological studies. They are hoping to find points to attack.

In comparison with what was discussed with Borelli and me at our meeting with Gori/Proctor on Oct 15th, the only new things here are: l) the cost estimate ranges,- and 2) the acknowledgement of the active participation by Peter N Lee. Neither of these is surprising, although $1.3m makes you pay attention.

The bottom line still is: the study, if done right, is worth doing.

The " if done right" according to this proposal depends upon our confidence in the team of Gori/Lee/Proctor and Gori's connection with 'EQUIFAX' -- the company that would actually conduct the survey. I have no reason to doubt their ability to oversee the work.

I'm not totally comfortable with signing up for a study which could cost "as little" as $700K or as much as $I.3m -- to be determined along the way -- but 1 can't think of a good alternative.

One thing that might make me a little happier is if they already had their questionnaire in hand, but the point Borelli raised on Oct I5th also remains to be addressed: Is there a way that this study could be done to yield a more 'credible' publication?

Presumably, we're looking at Gori and Lee (?}. Farming out the cotinine analyses to Neal Benowitz is a nice touch, but it won't make him a coauthor.

O.K. Where does all this leave us? WE SHOULD GET ON WITH IT!
It'll probably take months to get all the interested companies 'on board' anyway. Let's do it while we still have the money and before we think of more stupid things to spend it on. [4]

[Note: Peter N Lee was a well-known and well-used Statistician who could produce any result the companies desired. Gio B Gori was a corrupt scientist who had previously been dismissed by the government after running an early tobacco study with funding from the industry. (known as the Tobacco Working Group.)]

[Note: It is difficult to find a more damning expose of the way in which the tobacco industry conducted supposedly scientific research -- or more openly condemnatory of the so-called scientists Gori/Proctor/Lee who were being given the funds to conduct this purely propaganda exercise. Gori and Lee were over-used by this time, and their links to the tobacco industry were becoming obvious.]

Sourcewatch resources

External Resources


  • BBC News Tobacco giant 'breaks youth code' June 28, 2008. Article describes BAT's marketing tactics in Malawi, Nigeria and Mauritius that circumvent advertising bans and appeal to you in violation of the company's own voluntary marketing code. Proctor is quoted.


  1. British American Tobacco web page, Health and Science page, accessed March 9, 2009
  2. Christopher J. Proctor, British American Tobacco First Meeting of Asia ETS Consultants : Thailand June 21-23rd, 1989 Notes/report. 6 pp. July 7, 1989. Bates No.401686705/6710

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