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Latin American ETS Consultants Program

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

The Latin American ETS (Environmental Tobacco Smoke) Consultants Program, also known as the "Latin Project," was initiated in early 1991 by Philip Morris International and the British American Tobacco Company. The companies hired the law firm of Covington and Burling (C&B) to organize and carry out the project. The lawyers assigned to carry out the project were John P. Rupp and Patrick S. Davies. The purpose of the Latin Project was to find, train, and deploy a variety of supposedly "independent" scientific consultants to generate controversy on the issue of secondhand smoke by promoting the tobacco industry's view in literature, interviews and at conferences, that exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke had not been found to harm nonsmokers. A goal of the Latin Project was to influence policy makers, media and the public by providing, through industry consultants recruited through the Project, "accurate" (pro-industry) information about smoking regulations in public places and workplaces, indoor air quality and ventilation standards, and scientific claims regarding secondhand smoke. Consultants also conducted research related to secondhand smoke, organized, attended and spoke at regional and international symposia related to indoor air quality without acknowledging industry funding. The ultimate objective was to stave off regulations limiting smoking behavior in public places and workplaces. [1]

Groundwork for the project

In 1991 and 1992, immediately after its initiation, the focus of the Latin Project was on the recruitment and training of the selected scientific consultants. In 1993, several major projects were undertaken and completed which were designed to establish the industry's hired consultants as "regional experts" on indoor air quality issues in general, and on secondhand tobacco smoke issues in particular. These "major projects" were mostly indoor air-monitoring projects. The results of these projects were presented at journalist conferences that were pre-arranged by credible, third-party sources and designed to "provide the consultants a forum of unsurpassed prestige in the region for introducing the indoor air quality issue to the Latin American media."

Geographical scope of the project

By 1993, the Latin Project included fifteen consultants from the seven different south American countries of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala and Venezuela. The consultants represented a wide variety of scientific disciplines, including oncology, pulmonary and cardiovascular medicine, epidemiology, chemistry, biochemistry and microbiology. Beyond that, further recruitment of scientists only occurred in Argentina.

Strategy

After being trained and after their reputations as "experts" were established, consultants were directed to respond to any public assertions about the health effects of secondhand smoke in the media and press using industry-sponsored studies, to write letters to the editor, prepare and place articles in popular magazines, publish at least one scientific article per year, present their ostensibly independent pro-industry views on ETS to public officials, and become active in opposing any regulations to limit public smoking. Letters to the Editor were typically limited to four each year to avoid over-exposure. Consultants were instructed to have as little contact with the sponsoring tobacco companies as possible, to keep the consultants from being connected back to the industry.[2]

Lawyer fees to administer project

Fees and expenses for Covington & Burling to administer the Latin Project for 1994 were approximately U.S. $130,000, an amount that assumed an average of 10 hours per week of Patrick Davies' time during the year, and an additional U .S. $30,000 for travel and administrative expenses.[3]

Participants

Partial list:

External resources

"Accommodating" smoke-free policies: tobacco industry's Courtesy of Choice programme in Latin America] Tobacco Control, October 1, 2007; 16(5): e6 - e6.

Sourcewatch resources

References

  1. Barnoya J, Glantz S The tobacco industry's worldwide ETS consultants project: European and Asian components The European Journal of Public Health 2006 16(1):69-77; doi:10.1093
  2. No author.No title Report/meeting minutes, January 8, 1993. 6 pp. Philip Morris Bates No. 2503007280/7285
  3. Davies PS, Rupp JP, Covington & Burling Latin American ETS Project: Strategy and Budget Proposal for 940000 Report. 1994. 15 pp. Philip Morris Bates No. 2503017246/7260
  4. Covington & Burling Memorandum re: Latin America ETS Project March 26, 1992. Philip Morris Bates No. 2503007503/7507