Robert Casad Hockett

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

Robert Casad Hockett, Ph.D. served as Scientific Director for the Council for Tobacco Research (CTR). The purpose of CTR was described in a 1970s article from the Louisville Courier-Journal by a reporter named Robert L. Peirce. The story was part of a series called The Tobacco War, and the section was headlined: "Tobacco's Defenders: They fight a delaying action as evidence grows."

"[T]he industry's scientific supporters. . . look for contradictions in anti-smoking research to create what a lawyer would call reasonable doubt. They argue that massive statistical evidence - and considerable evidence from the laboratory - is either mistaken or not strong enough to be 'proof.'"

In his position a Scientific Director of CTR, Dr. Hockett assisted in the industry in carrying out the strategy of fostering reasonable doubt about the hazards of smoking.

Biography

Robert C. Hockett was born in Fayette, Missouri on July 1, 1906. He graduated from Ohio State University, pursued graduate study in the same institution and received a Ph.D.degree in chemistry there in 1929. As a National Research Council Fellow in Chemistry, he was a guest scientist at the National Institute of Health, U.S. Public Health Service from 1929 to 1931 and then Associate Chemist on the Institute staff from 1931 to 1935. In 1935 he joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as Assistant Professor of Chemistry, becoming Associate Professor in 1941.

In 1943 he was granted a leave of absence from MIT to serve as Scientific Director of the Sugar Research Foundation, Inc., a position he occupied until 1952. From 1952 until 1954 he served as a consultant to industrial firms on problems relating to foods, nutrition, pharmaceuticals, fermentations and sponsored research. In 1954 he joined the present Council for Tobacco Research's predecessor organization, the Tobacco Industry Research Committee, as an Associate Scientific director.[1]

Hockett served as Scientific Director of the Council for Tobacco Research from 1972-1974. (WSJ 2/11/93; Allman complaint). The Bio-Research Institute BRI conducted a study for the Council for Tobacco Research. When Syrian hamsters were exposed to smoke twice a day for 59 to 80 weeks, 40% of those of a cancer-susceptible strain and 4% of a resistant strain developed malignant tumors.(Wall Street Journal 2/11/93) Before publishing the study in 1974, BRI's founder, Frederic ("Freddy") Homberger, sent a manuscript to Robert Hockett, then scientific director of the Council for Tobacco Research. Dr. Homberger says he had to do so because halfway through his study, the Council for Tobacco Research had changed it from a grant to a contract so they could control publication. They were quite open about that.(WSJ 2/11/94) Soon thereafter, Hockett and Council for Tobacco Research lawyer Edwin Jacob went to Dr. Homburger's summer house in Maine. Hockett and Jacob did not want BRI to call anything cancer, they wanted it to be "pseudo-epitheliomatous hyperplasia," a euphemism for lesions preceding cancer.(WSJ 2/11/93) Dr. Homberger said no, this is not right, it is cancer. Jacob told Dr. Homberger that BRI would never get a penny more if the paper was published without the changes. At the last minute, Dr. Homberger changed the final proofs to read "microinvasive" cancer, a microscopic malignancy. Nevertheless, BRI was never funded by the Council for Tobacco Research again.(WSJ 2/11/96) Hockett made a statement, as scientific director of the Council for Tobacco Research circa February 1972 that neither tobacco and health research in general, nor that of the Council for Tobacco Research, has established that tobacco use or cigarette smoking in particular is a major health hazard (Allman complaint, pp. 41-42). Robert C. Hockett was Scientific Director, Vice President and Research Director of Council for Tobacco Research. See Bio-Research Institute, TTLA Almanac - Names. (N.M.'s Council for Tobacco Research Who's Who)

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