Issues Watch

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

Issues Watch (aka IssuesWatch and IssuesNet) was a newsletter and advisory service begun, and later taken over from APCO & Associates, by junk-science entrepreneur Steve Milloy. The organisation was originally known as IssuesWatch and it was an electronic division of APCO which used one of the early web-crawlers to search web sites looking for comments about clients, so as to provide them with early warnings via fax or the later email delivery system they called IssuesNet. [1] The electronic system was set up initially under Evan Kraus, the son of Margery Kraus (CEO of APCO). (See sample faxes [2] and [3])

APCO itself had been created by the lawyers Arnold & Porter as a controlled public relations operation for Philip Morris, and later extended for the use of the tobacco industry as a whole. IssuesWatch serviced the tobacco industry (among other industries) until 2001 by providing up-to-date information and early-warnings on any scientific findings or regulatory actions which may effect smoking and health issues. See Lorillard inclusion [4]

It is not clear what services Milloy also provided to other industries with poisoning and polluting problems, but the APCO version covered a wider range of clients than just tobacco. One document also lists the running of seminars as part of the Issues Watch services. (See Creative Cafe [5]) It was maintained as an information source long after the signing of the Master Settlement Agreement [6]


The electronic newsletter began life in about 1995 as part of an electronic information program which was run by APCO/Grey Advertising through its world wide network of companies. At that time APCO had been moved out of total tobacco industry control and (supposedly) merged with the GCI/Grey Group but still under the Kraus family control. Evan Kraus worked at this time at Boos Allen in San Diego, and he recruited software expert Charles Stone to help him start APCO Technical Services. Stone moved to Washington DC and worked for APCO for 13 months. He says (in an email to

I'll tell you what I can but unfortunately I've signed papers that keep me from saying too much. While there I developed IssueNet. Well, technically Evan put together a prototype and sold the idea to the client you named on your website [Philip Morris]. That client funded the development of a Java version which I did.

Stephen J Milloy was operating both The Advancement for Sound Science Coalition (TASSC) think-tank and the web pages to attack the regulatory science being used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

APCO's manager was Margery Kraus and her son Evan Kraus was given control of new electronic systems development. This was mainly based on slow-speed dial-up e-mail networks that were then beginning to be used by the larger corporations around the world. Evan Kraus used the Grey Group offices around the world to provide an electronic newspaper and legislative monitoring service. They could now instantly report back to their Washington DC head-offices if any regional problems emerged for APCO's IssuesWatch clients. A press-release, letter-to-the-editor, or editorial reply could then be quickly prepared by Milloy and his APCO associates, and put out to the local or national press or broadcast media ... or mounted on the junk-science web pages. It was a real innovation in PR and lobbying, because it provided an almost instant response mechanism for larger corporation and industry groups whenever they were attacked or exposed.

Milloy left APCO in 1998 and worked briefly with TASSC and the operation under R.J. Reynold's direction (through Powell-Tate PR, rather than APCO). At this time the monitoring/newsletter operation's name was changed to PR Newswire and it was associated with the Trash Talk Bulletin Board web site. [7]

A little later Milloy set up on his own newsletter Issues Watch through a fake front group called CAIS (Citizens for something?). [8] He seems to have linked this with funding for TASSC [9] [10] [11], and he continued servicing all the old PR companies and some of his tobacco companies directly, using the Issues Watch name.

Some recent tobacco items

Issues Watch was involved in the creating of publications, seminars and the supply of general information services. This was in addition to the undergraduate-level ridicule and sarcasm that Milloy could utilize very effectively through both the web pages and his column in Fox News. Many of the Issues Watch items below appear to indicate that, in 2000, Milloy still has contact with APCO and/or Grey Advertising. Some clearly come from contacts within the organisations concerned in other countries.

  • 2000 Jan - How the FTC will measure tar and tobacco. [12]
  • 2000 June - news that the Zurich Club in Italy was about to be exposed. It was created 1993-4 by the multinationals to "Develop pro-smoking groups in principle Italian cities." [13]
  • 2000 June - School smoking prevention program fails [14]
  • 2000 June - three new studies to appear in Epidemiology magazine [15]
  • 2000 Sept - The tobacco industry's use of chemical additives to mask the smell of smoke [16]
  • 2000 Oct - Are mobile phones reducing teenage smoking? [17] This is being offered to RJ Reynold's PR department as a possible piece to ridicule on the web pages. At the same time a study associating Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) with head and neck cancer got short-shrift. [18]
  • 2000 Oct-Nov - Milloy is included in the list of brainstormers for the analysis of trends, for Philip Morris's breakfast "Creative Cafe" meetings. The invite says: [19]

    The goal of this meeting is to identify, through several coordinated and facilitated breakout sessions, topics and themes for future Issues Watch publications, seminars and services.

  • 2000 Dec - WHO's new anti-smoking program [20] (Note it was sent for checking to Stephen B. Sears, a science lobbyist at RJ Reynolds)
  • 2001 June 4 - Story about the tobacco industry dominating the ISO (International Standards) organisation. [21]

Articles and resources

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External resources

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[Category:Tobaccowiki articles needing cleanup]]