WhiteCoats (SGDoc 1988)

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Tobacco industry Smoking Gun documents

Smoking-Gun documents
The information in these Smoking-Gun documents has sometimes been refined, corrected and condensed in the interests of clarity. But you can cross-check our changes against the original at any time. We have made changes in order to:
  • correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar and/or edit clumsy language [many writers were not natural English speakers],
  • interpret and include semi-legible handnotes and editing amendments, and spell-out full names from surnames, nicknames or initials.
  • expand and explain the widespread use of jargon and acronyms, and sometimes to simply clarify turgid prose.
    We have also provided additional explanatory material -- clearly identified as such -- to put the correspondence in its wider context.

Philip Morris 'WhiteCoats' scam outline

On 17 February 1988 Philip Morris staff, supported by lawyer David Remes of Covington & Burling, the main lawyers for the Tobacco Institute in the USA held a meeting in London (at the Rothmans headquarters in Mayfair) on Encironmental Tobbaco Smoke. Representatives of British-American Tobacco (BAT) Sharon Boyse (as a substitute for Dr Raymond E Thornton) attended, along with E Williams (who may be the lawyer Edward Bennet Williams), Rothmans representatives F Brown and B Prost; together with N Whittaker of Imperial Tobacco, and AJ Helms of Gallaher.

PM's key scientific dissembler from Switzerland, Helmut Gaisch, and Daniel Oxberry the manager of Corporate Affairs for Philip Morris in the UK were also present (He was Andrew Whist's point-man in Europe), along with George B Leslie of the consulting company Bioassay Ltd. who had already been contracted to help run the operation.

This 5 page document is the report of Sharon Boyse, the manager of Scientific Issues at BAT, to superior Ray Thornton and a group of BAT executives and legal advisors. Boyse was always reluctant to praise the Americans at Philip Morris, but she always eventually went along with their scams.

See original document: Note on a special meeting of the UK Industry on Environmental Tobacco Smoke, London, February 17th, 1988

  • The poor-quality original with handnotes: [1]
  • The retyped version used in some court case. [2]
There are 12 copies of this note in the tobacco archives.

See also [3]

Note on a special meeting of the UK Industry on Environmental Tobacco Smoke, London, February 17th, 1988

[List of those in attendance]

Philip Morris presented to the UK industry their global strategy on environmental tobacco smoke. In every major international area (USA, Europe, Australia, Far East, South America, Central America, & Spain) they are proposing, in key countries, to set up a team of scientists organised by one national coordinating scientist and American lawyers, to review scientific literature or carry out work on ETS to keep the controversy alive. They are spending vast sums of money to do so, and on the European Front Covington & Burling, lawyers for the Tobacco Institute in the USA, are proposing to set up a London office from March 1988 to coordinate these activities. The countries in Europe where they have already been working are the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and Scandinavia (via Sweden).

A list of potential scientists who could be contacted in the UK was produced.

Because of the heavy financial burden, Philip Morris are inviting other companies to join them in these activities to whatever extent individual companies deem to be appropriate. [SNIP]

Because of the heavy financial burden, Philip Morris are inviting other companies to join them in these activites …. The aim of the meeting was for Philip Morris to present to this industry their global strategy on environmental tobacco smoke and how they propose to apply it to the UK.

Dr Gaisch said that their strategy on ETS had been established in the USA at a meeting between Philip Morris and Covington and Burling, the lawyers acting for the Tobacco Institute of the USA. At a later date RJ Reynolds were also brought in to support some of their US activities, one of these being the Center for Indoor Air Research (CIAR)

The Philip Morris philosophy of ETS was presented. This appeared to revolve around the selection, in all possible countries, of a group of scientists either to critically review the scientific literature on ETS to maintain controversy, or to carry out research on ETS.

At this point the tobacco industry knew that cigarettes were deadly, and they had fallen back on "maintaining the controversy" so that bribed or financially padded-politicians could argue that they shouldn't get involved in legislation against smoking or cigarette advertising, because the scientists were still not in agreement. Controversy gave them an excuse not to act.
Note: she casually includes "carry out research on ETS" knowing full-well that this would be deliberately distorted 'inverted research. In fact, WhiteCoats were rarely given grants for research; they were paid for propaganda.

In each country a group of scientists would be carefully selected, and organised by a national coordinating scientist. [SNIP]

The consultants should, ideally, according to Philip Morris, be European scientists who have had no previous association with tobacco companies and who have no previous record on the primary issues, which might (according to [lawyer] Remes) lead to problems of attribution.

If they had previously done research on smoking, they may already be known to have financial links to tobacco companies, or may have actually found some evidence of harm. It was best to have 'clean-skins' who could be given a reputation.

The mechanism by which they identify their consultants is as follows:-

  1. they ask a couple of scientists in each country (Francis Roe and George Leslie in the UK) to produce a list of potential consultants.
  2. these scientists are then contacted by these coordinators or by the lawyers, and asked if they are interested in the problems of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Tobacco is not mentioned at this stage.
  3. CVs are obtained and obvious 'anti-smokers' or those with 'unsuitable backgrounds' are filtered out.
  4. The remaining scientists are sent a literature pack containing approximately 10 hours reading matter and including 'anti-ETS' articles.
  5. They are asked for a genuine opinion as independent consultants [She really means: If they are smart enough to figure out this loaded package comes from a rich tobacco company -- and they want the money -- they will give an opinion favouring the cigarette industry's position]
  6. If they indicate an interest in proceeding further, a Philip Morris scientist makes contact.
She neglects a further stage here: A half-dozen or more of them are grouped together to form a pseudo-scientific society: Associates for Indoor Air Research (ARIA) was already established by Roe, Leslie and Professor Roger Perry in the UK at this time. They were in the process of forming EGIL in Scandinavia under Tors Malmfors and others later in Asia, and the Middle East.

Philip Morris then expect the group of scientists to operate within the confines of decisions taken by PM scientists to determine the general direction of research, which apparently would then be 'filtered' by lawyers to eliminate areas of sensitivity.

Their idea is that the groups of scientists should be able to produce research or stimulate controversy in such a way that public affairs people in the relevant countries would be able to make use of -- or market the information. The later emphasis was on propaganda rather than the creation of fake research. However it is very obvious that Boyse, her executives and lawyers at BAT were quite OK in supporting such faked-up research, and they fully expected this to be a service provided by these contracted 'independent' scientists.

The scientists would not necessarily be expected to act as spokesmen for the industry, but could be if they were prepared to do so.

In fact the opposite was the case; they always denied being in debt to the tobacco industry in any way . . . always maintaining their independence and 'scientific integrity'.

The note goes on to discuss the importance of Professor Roger Perry of Imperial College, London, who was a valued worker for the tobacco industry and deserved to receive more support from the UK Tobacco Advisory Council (TAC). If TAC didn't continue to support him financially, Philip Morris would.

It also provides a badly-spelled list (corrected and supplemented) of potential consultants which had been prepared for PM by George Leslie. (This is probably recreated from hand-written notes. She was correct with those well-known, but otherwise appears to be confused about name-spelling)

  • William H Butler - a toxicologist/pathologist from Carshalton, UK who worked for BIBRA Toxicology
    BIBRA = British Industrial Biological Research Association, which was associated with Alex Malispina and the US ILSI (International Life Sciences Institute) and Toxicology Forum.
  • John M Faccini - "ex Pfizers and Hazelton, now a consultant in Lyon". A pathologist who worked in France and through the University of Surrey. A Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists.
  • Ralph Haywood or Hywood of Huntingdon Research Centre. (unknown)
  • Brian Large -- a pharmacologist at the University of Leeds. (unknown)
Leeds University has a Brian Leeds Bursary which probably accounts for the confusion.
  • Leonard S Levy - "a lecturer in Occupational Health at the University of Leeds" (also Industrial Toxicology Unit, Uni of Birmingham
  • Frank W Lunau (Luno) - "a consultant in occupational hygiene". He became assistant to George Leslie in running many of the European scams (IAI, ARIA and EGIL).
  • Paul Nicholls - "a lecturer in respiratory pharmacology at Cardiff Uni" (later Welsh School of Pharmacy, Uni of Wales, Institute of Science & Technology.
  • Professor Smithers - "Prof. of Paediatric Medicine at the University of Leeds" (unknown)
  • Frank M Sullivan "a consultant to Rothmans" on Smoking and Pregnancy. Sullivan was a UK Reproductive Pharmacologist, working through Guys Hospital and the University of London; He was also well known as a tobacco tout
  • Donald F Weetman (Wheatman) "another pharmacologist at Sunderland School of Pharmacy". He was known as 'Max' and he became part of both ARIA and IAI.
  • Gerald Clough (an 'environmental physiologist' at York) He later worked with Perry, Roe, Leslie and Weetman on a number of different tobacco projects
  • Robert C Brown MRC Toxicology Unit, Carshalton in Surrey. He provide services attacking the EPA policies, and comments on indoor air quality and respiratory disorders.
  • Christopher Rhodes of the ICI Central Toxicology Lab. Alderley Park. (Toxicology Forum)
  • Jim Bridges (Robbins Institute) (not known)

In addition Rothmans suggested:-

  • John Daniels (ex-ICI toxicology) [Could be a number of John Daniels/Daniel or Daniel Johns]
  • Gordon Cumming Professor in respiratory physics -- consultant to Rothmans. Received TAC grants.

Gallaher's suggested:-

  • Bob Schroter (Imperial College) (not known)
  • Professor John S Clifton ("medical physics, UCL") Chief Physicist, Department of Medical Phyics and BioEngineering at University College Hospital, London

Not only are Philip Morris active in the US (via John Rupp of Covington & Burling) and the UK and Europe (via David Remes), but other Covington & Burling lawyers have also been commissioned to coordinate PM's ETS activities in the Far East, Australia, South America, Central America, and Spain.

Although the industry is in great need of concerted effort and action in the ETS area, the detailed strategy of Philip Morris leaves something to be desired. The excessive involvement of external lawyers at this very basic scientific level is questionable and, in Europe at least, is likely to frighten off a number of scientists who might otherwise be prepared to talk to the industry. Also, the rather oblique initial approach may appear to be somewhat less than honest to many scientists.

Boyse sums up:

It must be appreciated that Philip Morris are putting vast amounts of funding into these projects: not only is directly funding large numbers of research projects all over the world, but in attempting to coordinate and pay so many scientists on an international basis to keep the ETS controversy alive. It is generally felt that this kind of activity is already giving them a marketing and public affairs advantage, especially in countries in which, until recently, they have played a rather low profile.

The memo was sent to the six members of the BAT Scientific Research Group.