Our Stolen Futurea book by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers
 
 

 

     
  Ong, 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.

"Public 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. "

Ong 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 Secrets."

The 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 Europe.

Philip 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 Glantz:

  "From 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. "  

The Philip Morris effort also spawned the "junk science" home page. junkscience.com writer/editor/publisher Steven Milloy worked for TASSC, ultimately as its executive director before the sham operation was allowed to fade out of existence:

  "...by 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." (emphasis added)  

Milloy's association with tobacco continues, as acknowledged on his website.

The documents reviewed by Ong and Glantz indicate that PM and its PR firms were very pleased by TASSC's activities:

  "APCO 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]  

www.OurStolenFuture 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.

 
     

 

 

 

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