Steven C. Parrish

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Steven C. Parrish circa 1996. Photo from Internet Archive.

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

Steve Parrish was, until recently, the Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Altria Group, the parent company of cigarette maker Philip Morris (PM). In this position, he was responsible for implementing PM's Corporate Affairs strategies. Philip Morris lead the tobacco industry in the corruption of science and in its corrupt political activities worldwide, and Parrish's Corporate Affairs (CA) division was the source of most of these corrupt activities.

Before being employed by Philip Morris he was a partner in possibly the most corrupt corporate law firm in USA, Shook Hardy & Bacon, which provided an extraordinary range of services to the tobacco industry.

Parrish worked almost full-time for the tobacco industry in the late 1980s, and he was seconded by SH&B to the Philip Morris heaquarters in Switzerland to help them set up their Whitecoats operations which entailed paying second-rate scientists to work as underground lobbyists for the industry. Payments were made via pseudo-scientific associations (IAPAG, ARIA, EGIL, etc) so that the scientist could claim to be independent, and to "never have being paid by the tobacco industry."

Steven C. Parrish (Doc. Index)

Parrish helped Philip Morris set up these operations while at Shook Hardy & Bacon in Kansas City -- then when seconded to Lausanne with Philip Morris in Switzerland -- and then took over and managed the program as a Philip Morris executive. (See the accompanying '(Doc Index)'.)

Tobacco archive documents reveal that the Corporate Affairs department was responsible (both before and after Parrish took over) for implementing strategies to thwart public health efforts to reducing smoking. A September 1993, a '"Strictly Confidential"' PM USA Corporate Affairs Plan states that the main goal of corporate affairs was to

Stop the decline in, and start re-building the social acceptability of smokers and smoking in 2.

Other Corporate Affairs goals included

- blocking cigarette excise tax initiatives from reaching the ballot,
- thwarting the passage of public smoking restrictions
- countering efforts to limit tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. [1]

Corporate Affairs was also responsible for funding think-tanks who would act as lobbyshops, and building fake, corporate "grassroots" coalitions to help PM fight a wide variety of public health initiatives.[2]

Given his internal and external roles in supporting the tobacco company, Parrish has an intimate knowledge of Philip Morris', and the tobacco industry's, participation in public fraud and disinformation relative to health hazards of tobacco, the manipulation of nicotine in tobacco products and marketing of tobacco products to children. He is also one of the company's favoured spokespersons and has defended Philip Morris on the "MacNeil - Lehrer News Hour" and other news programs.

As an in-house lawyer for Philip Morris, he worked on the Rose Defrancesco Cipollone case, a landmark liability case which the cigarette company's lost, but later won on appeal.(NYT 8/28/95)

Documents & Timeline

1950 April 13: Parrish was born on in Moberly, Missouri.

1972-75 He received a B.A. degree in Political Science in 1972, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Missouri and received a Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Missouri School of Law in 1975. While in law school he served as editor of the law review.

1975-80 Prior to working for PM, Parrish was employed by the notorious Kansas City law firm of Shook Hardy and Bacon (SHB and SH&B). He became a partner in 1980. Shook Hardy & Bacon became the tobacco industry's lawfirm-of-choice when it came to subversive or underhand activities in order to undermine legislative, scientific or popular moves to limit tobacco activities and advertising. [[[Covington & Burling]] in Washington DC was almost as bad, but concentrated on political lobbying] SH&B also represented Philip Morris in numerous lawsuits and was responsible for screening external scientific research projects with the goal of minimizing threats to Philip Morris (and through the Tobacco Institute for the whole US industry) of adverse publicity and litigation.

1985 /E Parrish transferred over to become the Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Philip Morris-USA -- the top inhouse lawyer for the domestic US company. He worked out of Philip Morris, Inc., headquarters at 120 Park Avenue, New York.

Press-release materials attempted to 'humanise' him:

Not long after he started working for Philip Morris, Parrish, then 40 years old, highly educated, well to do, surprised himself by taking up smoking. Experts say almost no one starts smoking so late in life. So why did Parrish? It wasn't from anxiety or curiosity or the pressures of the new job, he says. In fact, He struggles to explain it. "There are times when I like fiddling with a cigarette before I even light it. There are times when I like to see the smoke go up. I like the sensation in the back of my throat. Sort of all those things. I don't know. I have never really thought about it, I guess." (Washington Post National Weekly Edition, January 13, 1997, pg. 9)

1986: He was employed as Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel for Philip Morris in 1986 and again from 1992 to 1993.

1990: He was now the Vice President of Corporate Scientific Affairs for Philip Morris, and working on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) draft Risk Assessment and draft Workplace Policy Guide on environmental tobacco smoke.

1992-93: He resumed his previous position as Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel for Philip Morris.

1992 Sep: Now listed as Senior Vice President of External Affairs, and General Counsel for Philip Morris USA.

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 Gio B 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. [3]

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

1994-95:He became Senior Vice President of Executive Affairs, Company Secretary, and General Counsel, and was elevated to the Board of Directors between 1994 and 1995.(Source: Philip Morris Summary - PMI Liability Notebook)(DOCS 000040) A some time in 1994 he was appointed Senior Vice President of PM Worldwide Regulatory Affairs (WRA) The actual Restructure took place in Feb 1995 with the creation of the WRA

2005: According to his profile in Forbes Magazine, in 2005 Parrish made a salary of $934,423 plus a bonus of $1,350,000. Combined with other short term and long term compensation, Mr. Parrish's total compensation in 2005 was $7,789,957. His total stock options in 2005 were valued at $53,112,037.[4]


  • Press release approved by Steven Parrish announcing that Philip Morris is suing the city of San Francisco to overturn a 1994 smoke-free ordinance. The release claims the ordinance violates the California Constitution, is preempted by state safety regulations and will do "irrepearable harm to businesses."
  • 1995 A speech by Steven Parrish in which he describes PM strategies to thwart public health efforts to reduce tobacco use. Parrish describes how PM undermined a strong tobacco-related public health billboard campaign in Moscow: "In Russia, the Moscow city government was prepared to run a very negative anti-smoking billboard campaign. PM was present at a meeting on the issue and offered to take part in the program provided it focused solely on youth. As a result, what may have been a broad, very negative campaign is now a positive youth-oriented billboard program carrying the tag line 'Smoking can wait.'" Parrish describes tactics PM used to stop the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) from passing workplace smoking limitations. He describes PM's strategy to pass restrictive legislation ("preepmtion") that removes people's rights to pass smoke-free laws. He also tells of the success the company has had in passing its legislation in 17 states. He describes PM efforts to implement tort reform, and efforts to "deal with the wolves at the door."


Steven C. Parrish
Altria Group
120 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10017
Tel. 917-663-4000

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