EK, and SA Glantz. 2001. Constructing Sound Science
and Good Epidemiology: Tobacco, Lawyers, and Public Relations
Firms. American Journal of Public Health 91:1749-1757.
health professionals need to be aware that the "sound science"
movement is not an indigenous effort from within the profession
to improve the quality of scientific discourse, but reflects sophisticated
public relations campaigns controlled by industry executives and
lawyers whose aim is to manipulate the standards of scientific proof
to serve the corporate interests of their clients. "
and Glantz reach this forceful conclusion after an analysis of internal
documents made public as a result of litigation against the
tobacco industry. Their analysis reveals that the effort was not
restricted to tobacco, but also targeted other environmental contaminants.
Indeed, the Chemical Manufacturers Association co-funded, along
with the Philip Morris Company, one of the most vocal advocates
for "sound science," The Advancement for Sound Science
Coalition (TASSC). The Chemical Manufacterers Association has
since been renamed the American Chemistry Council. This organization
(which has had a series of name changes since its inception) has
a long history of questionable practices in debates about public
health, as revealed by Bill Moyers' devastating analysis "Trade
documents reviewed by Ong and Glantz unambiguously reveal that TASCC
was established by Philip Morris explicitly for the purpose of undermining
EPA efforts to regulate second-hand tobacco smoke. A European version
of TASSC was also spawned, called the "European Science &
Environment Forum" to head off development of regulations in
Morris hired two PR firms, Burson-Marsteller and APCO, to design
and implement the strategy. Part of the strategy developed by the
PR team was to enlist other industries concerned about environmental
regulations. In this way, the tobacco origins of the ploy could
remain hidden. The more that other industries and issues participated
in the effort, the more effective would the smoke-screen be.
Another part of the strategy involved paying scientists and lawyers
to advance the concept of "good epidemiological practices"
(GEP). While in principle this sounds good, the express purpose
was to ensure that standards were set that were too high to allow
regulations to be developed for second-hand smoke. From Ong and
1994 to 2000, seemingly independent seminars on GEP have been
conducted by several organizations in the United States, United
Kingdom, European Union, and China. In fact, Philip Morris is
connected to all these events. Federal Focus, Inc, a nonprofit
foundation based in Washington, DC, that engages in research
and education pertaining to federal government policy issues,
conducted seminars on epidemiology and risk assessment that
appear to have been part of PM's GEP program. "
Philip Morris effort also spawned the "junk science" home
writer/editor/publisher Steven Milloy worked for TASSC, ultimately
as its executive director before the sham operation was allowed
to fade out of existence:
1995, a TASSC Web site was being planned with PM to distribute
scientific papers and polls to support PM's position. 44 TASSC
and its Web site are now defunct, but its executive director
Steve Milloy, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute (a libertarian
think tank in Washington, DC, that has received funds from the
tobacco industry), now produces a "junk science" Web
site. Milloy's Web site continues TASSC's original work in
criticizing and "debunking" the science behind public
health and environmental issues, including secondhand smoke."
association with tobacco continues, as acknowledged
on his website.
documents reviewed by Ong and Glantz indicate that PM and its PR
firms were very pleased by TASSC's activities:
is very excited about the development and progress of TASSC.
The national coalition currently has over 300 members, with
representation from business and industry, the scientific and
academic communities, and public officials. We are looking forward
to the successful launching of TASSC this fall. We believe the
groundwork we conduct to complete the launch will enable
TASSC to expand and assist Philip Morris in its efforts with
issues in targeted states in 1994." (emphasis added) [link
to PDF of document]
will update this page with names of scientists who became involved
in the TASSC effort as we continue to review the documents on line
and other files.