K Alexander Brownlee

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

K Alexander Brownlee (generally just known as 'Alec') was seen by the tobacco industry as one of their main supporters among the scientific witnesses. He was a statistician, and an Associate Professor of Statistics at the University of Chicago. Throughout the 1970s he was also secretly a tobacco industry lobbyist who was paid by the Council for Tobacco Research (CTR) (the successor to the TIRC ), not in the normal way -- which would have involved scrutiny by the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) -- but through the tobacco industry's secret Special Account #4 which was handled by the Ad Hoc Committee of company lawyers. This was to ensure that the scientist/academic remained 'untainted' and could be used as a witness in court cases, or present himself at Congressional or local ordinance hearings as an authority who was 'independent' of tobacco industry influences.

Brownlee openly challenged the 1964 Surgeon General's report. In a series of articles published in newspapers around the U.S. circa Nov. 20, 1965, Brownlee said "the Surgeon General's report failed to prove smoking is a cause of cancer." He published an article in the Journal of the American Statistical Association circa 1965 which supported the "genetic theory" of causation (the idea that smoking is a symptom of a type of person, rather than a causal factor of disease.) Brownlee gave permission to the Tobacco Institute to use this article in Congressional hearings.

Some of the newspaper articles quoting Brownlee are here: [2]

Documents & Timeline

1965 This is a Philip Morris draft defence document outlining the position of the tobacco industry in countering the proposal requiring cigarette companies to add warning lables to their packets. It mentions the wording on the Italian label proposals. They are reacting to the fall-out from the 1964 Surgeon-General's Report into Smoking & Health the year before. It suggests that the reader " "see the statements of the witnesses listed on the attached sheet as Statisticians, Epidemiologists and BioStatisticians, particularly Prof Brownlee." "

The document has a number of lists of specialists who can be called upon to support the tobacco industry in a Congressional hearing (divided by specialist category)

Reliable tobacco industry witnesses.
Statistician, Epidemiologists, Biostatisticians
Prof K Alexander Brownlee Mr Alan S Donnahoe Dr Leonard A Katz,
Dr George L Saiger Mr Darrell Huff Dr Theodor D Sterling
Dr Thomas J Moran, Dr Douglas H Sprunt, Dr William B Ober
Dr Raymond H Rigdon Dr Ferdinand C Helwig Dr William H Carnes
Dr Harry SN Greene Sheldon C Sommers,
Chest Physicians
Dr Milton S Rosenblatt Dr Alvis E Greer Dr Israel Rappaport
Thoracic Surgeons
Dr John H Mayer Jr Dr Duanne Carr Dr Raymond J Barrett
Dr Hiram T LangstonDr Thomas H Burford
Dr Harold G Tabb Dr Joseph H Ogura Dr Alden H Miller
Dr George A Sisson Dr Louis H Cleft
Heart and Cardiovascular Diseases
Dr Joseph B Wolffe Dr Henry I Russek Dr Sigmund L Wilens
Dr Sherman Kaplan Dr Henry E McMahon
Dr L Henry Garland
General Surgeons
Dr Ian G Macdonald Dr Jack M Farris
Psychosomatic Medicine
Dr Bernice C Sachs
Dr William JE Crissy Prof Frank M Bass Dr Darrell B Lucas
Dr John J Kennedy Dr Charles Winick
CTR's Clarence Cook Little & Robert C Hockett;
RJ Reynolds' Bowman Gray and (Code tzar) Robert B Meyner [3]


1968 Said to have retired to the mountains of Ouray, Colorado

1969 Kenneth Alexander Brownlee, Ph.D. the University of Chicago statistician testified for the tobacco industry at 1969 hearings.

1971 Feb 28 The audit for the CTR's secret Special Account #4 (six months only) shows: Disbursements :-
Consultants' Fees and Expenses :-

Auditing ...................$ 225.00 ........... $17,257.29
Cash in Bank - Feb 28 1971 ........ $54,674.64
[Note: there was also a $500 reimbursement to the Canadian Tobacco Industry for a sum advanced to Dr Rene Cederlof [4]

1975 Sep The Tobacco Institute is making a film "The Answers We Seek". The draft script lists the scientific touts for the industry who will be used to represent various scientific disciplines in the film:

[With the exception of Hammond, every one of these medical 'scientists' received substantial and often regular payments through the tobacco industry and its secret Special Project #4 accounts.] [5] Final script [6]

1982 Aug 11 The main medical consultant at the Tobacco Institute, George Schafer, recommends the development of numerous counter-arguments in anticipation of the 1983 Surgeon-General's Report on Smoking and Health. They should use the industry consultants (from both Philip Morris and the CTR):

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