Reginald B. Simmons

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Reginald B. Simmons was an environmental consultant for Healthy Buildings International (HBI), a tobacco industry-backed air quality analysis company. He was classed as an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) consultant, but his main role with the company appears to be talking to the media and on radio and TV programs, preaching a message dictated by the Tobacco Institute.

He was at the second level in the company. At the top was Gray Robertson who had founded the original company in 1981 (Then called ACVA). Simmons joined the company a few years after ACVA began working (virtuallly full time) for the tobacco industry (mainly Philip Morris and the Tobacco Institute) and then changed its name to Healthy Buildings International (HBI). He became one of a cabel of senior employees (with Simon Turner, Jeffrey Seckler and Richard Silberman) who specialised in spreading the tobacco industry propaganda, In essence, this was to deny that tobacco smoke was ever more than a minor component of polluted indoor air: they blamed a range of volitile compounds, and talked endlessly of the Sick Building Syndrome which was an effective scare tactic which implied that the problems could stem from a deadly form of pneumonia called Legionnaire's Disease.

The whole point of the tobacco industry subsidising, promoting and organising these IAQ testing companies to test offices, homes and public buildings was that they would use procedures and equipment guaranteed to measure at a lower-than-true levels, If the measurements of smoke particulates was still too high, the principals of the IAQ-testing company would reduce the record with a rubber.


1986 Jan Simmons closed his own business in Florida and went to work for ACVA Atlantic as a field technican. He quickly became a project team supervisor.

1986 May (spring) Tobacco Industry made an approach to Robertson. Tobacco Institute started sending them assignment. [2]

1986-87 The Tobacco Institute began hiring Fleishman-Hillard, a PR firm, and Covington & Burling to help HBI.

1987 July (mid) HBI was receiving contracts from the Tobacco Institute to inspect buildings throughout the US. The company was expanding. New staff needed to be trained.

1988-89 They were now being sent around the world. HBI received a monthly retainer of $20,000 + $1,500 per building checked for the TI, Costs per test were about $200. They were doing approx 500 per year (1988-89) They also did a major study in New York restraunts using Briefcase PASS units.

1989 Feb With HBI staff sent to Switzerland for 6 weeks to do dozens of inspections under the auspices of Tobacco Institute and Philip Morris, They worked with the PM team at Neuchatel.

1990 He left and Simon Turner took over, He presented the Swiss study at a conference in Canada -- and lied about the conclusions. Smoke was a major problem,

Testimony in U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit against Philip Morris, et al, 1999

Reginald Simmons is now best known because of his testimony in the United States Department of Justice racketeering case against Philip Morris et al.

Simmons worked for HBI in 1986, when the company first started associating with the Tobacco Institute. He notes that HBI experienced a vast increase in workload after that time, hiring and training many more workers to inspect buildings all over the world. Simmons describes the ground rules were laid down for sampling air in all of the buildings inspected for the Tobacco Institute:

Mr. Binnie [Vice President of HBI] had a number of instructions and ground rules for us to follow that applied to all of the buildings we inspected, private and public: (1) when taking air samples for nicotine tests, we were instructed to take air samples in lobbies and other easily accessible areas where the circulation was best, thus reducing the readings; (2) if asked, always recommend to clients that any air pollution problem could be solved by better ventilation; (3) banning or restricting tobacco use or smoking was never to be recommended; and, (4) every inspection report was to be reviewed and undergo final editing by either Mr. Binnie or Mr. Robertson before it was sent out.

Simmons stated that the results of his reports were altered after he submitted them to his superiors:

Q. Were your reports ever edited or changed after you submitted your reports to Mr. Binnie or Mr. Robertson?
A. It is my understanding that the reports were always edited by Mr. Binnie or Mr. Robertson.
Q. How do you know that your reports were changed after you submitted them to Mr. Binnie or Mr. Robertson?
A. On many occasions involving inspections of both public and private buildings, I would later see the inspection reports in the main files and note that Mr. Binnie or Mr. Robertson had changed the data and the conclusions. For example, when I had recommended a restriction or banning of smoking, Mr. Binnie would edit it out of the final inspection report. It was also a standard practice for Mr. Binnie to reduce the actual results of two significant tests that were done on buildings: (1) the test for airborne particle count ("APC"); and (2) the test for weighing airborne particles ("WAP")...
Q. Are the results of these tests important?
A. Yes. These two tests are critical for providing accurate information about airborne particles in the final inspection reports for buildings.
Q. To your knowledge, did clients ever learn that the results of these tests were reduced?
A. No. The clients, both public and private buildings owners and tenants, were never advised of the alteration of the data. "

Simmons testified that the Tobacco Institute and its members sent HBI employees all over the world to perform building inspections, and that money was no object

...we stayed in the most exclusive and expensive hotels and were told we could have anything and everything we needed. We were provided drivers that took us to each city and took care of all of our personal needs... On weekends, we were allowed to go anywhere we wanted at the expense of Philip Morris. For example, one weekend they took some of us, myself included, to the St. Moritz Resort where we all went skiing; other team members went to Venice and Florence, Italy, for the weekend...I personally turned in, for my group's two weeks in Scandinavia, approximately $12,500 of expenses for hotels, meals, and miscellaneous purchases. Money was never an issue when working for the Tobacco Institute or its members...

Simmons further noted that Philip Morris representatives were always present during building inspections.

Later, after he left HBI, Simmons noted that HBI was not telling the truth about the results of building inspections the company had performed:

In 1990, after I had left HBI, I heard Mr. Simon Turner of HBI give a presentation on the results of the Swiss study at the International Conference on Indoor Air Quality held in Toronto, Canada. In his presentation, he asserted that environmental tobacco smoke was only a minor problem in the buildings we surveyed. In my opinion, this was not an accurate characterization of what we observed. Contrary to his presentation, some buildings we observed in the study had high levels of environmental tobacco smoke."[1]

Simmons' deposition is instructive about how the industry constructed its deception on the issue of secondhand smoke.

In 1994 Dec the activities of HBI were exposed by a US House of Representatives Subcommittee looking at the problem of ETS. This was a result of the work of Rep. Henry Waxman.

Subcommittee on Health and the Environment - Majority Staff Report: Dec. 20 1994
Healthy Buildings International (HBI) began its relationship with the tobacco industry in 1985. At that time, the company was a small and obscure indoor air firm. In addition to the president and vice president, it had only two technical employees and operated under the name ACVA Atlantic. Over the next nine years, however, HBI grew to be an international presence in the indoor air field. This was due in large measure to the patronage of the tobacco industry. During this period, the Tobacco Institute, Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, and the Center for Indoor Air Research (a tobacco-industry research organization) paid HBI millions of dollars for its services.
    The tobacco industry went to great lengths to promote HBI. The Tobacco Institute paid the expenses of a public relations firm, Fleishman-Hillard, to arrange media tours for HBI throughout the United States. From September 1990 to November 1992, Philip Morris covered all the expenses of, and paid HBI a substantial fee for, the publication of a magazine entitled "Healthy Buildings International Magazine." The magazine, which included glossy color photographs, was published in eight languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Dutch, and Finnish) and disseminated worldwide.
    A report circulated within HBI in late 1991 or 1992 describes "the HBI concept" that the tobacco industry paid so much to promote. According to this document, "the key objective of the HBI concept is to broaden the debate on indoor air quality to deflect the ETS challenge." The document states that "HBI is now positioned as an authority on IAQ issues" [and has] "brought balance to the IAQ [indoor air quality] debate" [by promoting] "acceptance that ETS is in fact a minor contributor."
    HBI performed at least two vital services for the tobacco industry. First, it conducted scientific research for the industry that purported to show that ETS is not a significant source of indoor air pollution. The most significant of these research studies was done in 1989, when HBI was paid over $200,000 by the tobacco industry's Center for Indoor Air Research (CIAR) to study ETS levels in 585 office environments. The results of this study were summarized in a final report to CIAR in January 1990 presented to EPA in public comments in September 1990, and formally published in 1992.
    In addition to conducting research for the tobacco industry, HBI regularly testified for the industry in opposition to federal, state, and local restrictions on smoking. Over most of the last decade, HBI was the tobacco industry's principal defender on ETS matters. According to the records of the Tobacco Institute, HBI testified 129 times for the Tobacco Institute from August 1985 through September 1994 -- an average of more than once per month. In some months, HBI testified as many as six times. HBI's appearances for the Tobacco Institute included testimony before Congress (including this Subcommittee on June 27, 1986, and March 17, 1994), before state legislatures, and before local governments. [3]


Sourcewatch resources

External resources


  1. U.S. Department of Justice Testiony of Reginald B. Simmons under order #471, undated. 13 pp.

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