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

This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

The Associates for Research on Indoor Air (ARIA) and its associated organization, Indoor Air International (IAI) were both comprised of tobacco-funded, "independent" scientific consultants and Whitecoats who used these organizations as front groups. The name of the organization is occasionally seen in the documents as "Associates for Research in Indoor Air." The purpose of the organization was to offer consulting services to governments and companies on the issue of indoor air quality[1]

The international tobacco industry law firm Covington & Burling created these structures to provide a legal barrier against discovery; it both concealed any direct links between the tobacco companies and the moonlighting academic consultants and it provided them with a way to launder their payments. The details of their activities in this regard are clearly outlined in a memo from John Rupp of Covington & Burling to Philip Morris in New York, early in 1990. [2]

ARIA was one of the tobacco industry's most successful covert operations because it provided cover for some of their most active consultants, and it set the pattern for further development of these organizations. It provided cover and cut-out operations in a couple of different ways:

  • it laundered payments passing from the tobacco industry to the consultants;
  • it transfered payments to Swiss and other bank accounts;
  • it issued general brochures which established a legitimacy to the operations;
  • it allowed the tobacco consultants to pretend that they provided general indoor air quality consulting services, and were not therefore tobacco lackeys.

Initially, ARIA was entirely funded and controlled by Philip Morris, but in an attempt at company cooperation and collaboration, in November 1989, British American Tobacco was invited to contribute. [3] ARIA also had an offshoot "scientific organization" known as "Indoor Air International" (IAI), and a Swiss-based "International Association for Indoor Air Quality." All were actually part of the same tobacco-funded group.


ARIA was established in 1988 by the tobacco industry's New York/London based legal firm Covington & Burling [4] and run by:

  • Professor Roger Perry of Imperial College London, [5][6]
  • Francis J. C. Roe, a prominent toxicologist, who was known within the industry as the "main whitecoat in Europe" [7]
  • George Leslie, a freelance ex-pharmaceutical consultant who ran a small firm, BioAssays Ltd. [8]

This threesome had a long and fruitful working relationship with the tobacco industry in the United Kingdom.[9]

ARIA had no staff, and was operated by lawyers and the top three or four consultants. It provided invoicing and check laundering services for its members.[10] [11] and it was also able to generate consulting work in industries not directly related to tobacco. This was important because it provided members with a defense against the charge that they were "tobacco consultants." Through ARIA they theoretically performed general consulting work for a whole range of industries.

However the organization was funded by, and primarily run for, tobacco industry work.


ARIA generated its own offshoot "scientific society," called Indoor Air International (IAI) which ran seminars, conferences, etc. and had its own scientific journal and newsletter, all funded by tobacco. The IAI was nominally under the control of another fictitious organization, known as International Association for Indoor Air Quality, which was also registered in Switzerland, where access to corporate records is notoriously difficult.[12]

A 1990 memo from the international tobacco industry's main legal firm, Covington & Burling, which headed the "European Consultancy Program," (a euphemism for the recruitment of Whitecoats) boasted that:

"Our consultants have created the world's only learned scientific society (Indoor Air International) addressing questions of indoor air quality ...."
"Our EC [Economic Community] consultants have formed a consulting group called ARIA (Association for Research in Indoor Air) ... "
"One of our consultants is an editor of this very influential British medical journal, and is continuing to publish numerous reviews, editorials and comments on ETS or Environmental Tobacco Smoke and other issues ..."
"One consultant is, for example, the advisor to a particularly relevant committee of the House of Commons."

The last two references are to Professor Perry who ran the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Technology Letters [13] with another AIRA member P. W. W. Kirk, and was the chief adviser to the House of Commons Environment Committee.[14]

Indoor Air International (IAI)

The IAI was Swiss registered and controlled by the same Whitecoats who ran ARIA. See page 12 [15] It also had an alternative name used in some of its publications, International Assocaition for Indoor Air Quality (IAIAQ).

A Philip Morris monthly highlights report by scientific employee Helmut Gaisch[16] gives an explanation of the organizations origins, under the caption "IAQ Consultants":

The purpose of the creation of such an organisation is to provide a scientific "home" for the wide range of disciplines involved in IAQ, in order to make sure that independent scientists can identify with a professional organisation and do not have to resort to giving vague explanations as to whom they are associated with.
The legal form of the organisation should be an association under Swiss Civil Law. At present, the following name is envisaged: "Indoor Air International - Internation [sic] Association for Indoor Air Quality".

The consultants plan for the association to be constituted at the October meeting of ARIA. C&B [Covington & Burling] are currently working on drafting the statutes for the future association. Given the high class of expertise presently contained in ARIA, this future international association can be trusted to gain considerable reputation and thus fulfil the expectations of its founders.

IAI's activities included:

  • publication of books, conference proceedings, etc.
  • running numerous seminars and conferences around the world [17]
  • established a monthly scientific journal
  • established a newsletter, "Indoor Air International"

All attempts were made to broaden the subject of environmental tobacco smoke into a larger problem of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) by including such subjects as house-mite dust, Sick Building Syndrome, [18] and Legionella, asbestos, pesticides, etc. [19]

Whitecoats organization

Philip Morris used ARIA as a test case in establishing a series of Whitecoats and ETS consulting organiztions around the world. It was also the foundation for the McGill University Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) Symposium which provided a training ground for these science-for-sale operators, as was the Lisbon Warm Climates Conference soon after.[20] The main ARIA-style whitecoat organizations are:

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch resources


  1. Associates for Research on Indoor Air ARIA [Invoice - office costs Transaction document/invoice. December 9, 1989. 1 page. British American Tobacco Bates No. 304028853
  2. Covington and Burling Report on the European Consultancy Project Report. March 1, 1990. 14 pp. Philip Morris Bates No. 2500048956/8969
  3. Regulatory Issues Author unknown. November 2, 1989. British American Tobacco Bates No. 300535759/5760
  4. DOJ Plaintiff's Factual Memorandum Tab 4.pdf United States Department of Justice; email attachment, August 17, 2004, 49 pp. Bates No. 5000917924/7972
  5. S&T Neuchatel Pottorff M., Philip Morris. Memorandum, September 24, 1991. Bates No. 2023856259/6287, at page 7
  6. Monthly Report Highlights Gasich HW, Philip Morris FTR. Report, September 30, 1987. 17 pp. Bates No. 2001160764/0780
  7. Monthly Report Highlights Gasich HW, Philip Morris FTR. Report, September 30, 1987. 17 pp. Bates No. 2001160764/0780, at Page 13
  8. Covington Burling Rupp, JP. Letter. July 5, 1989. Philip Morris Bates No.2500048598/8600
  9. Parrish Corrected Testimony.pdf Philip Morris email attachment. January 21, 2005. 143 pp. Bates No.5000943161/3303
  10. Invoice - UK and Europe Leslie GB, Associates for Research in Indoor Air. Invoice/check request. June 12, 1992. Philip Morris Bates No. 2023592680/2684
  11. 921100 Statement 038 Philip Morris. November 1992; Bates No. 2023592108/2110
  12. Airmail 9 Indoor Air Intl Leslie GB, Lunau F, Roe FJ, International Association for Indoor Air Quality. Newsletter, January 1993. Philip Morris Bates No. 2028398146/8149
  13. Quotation for Production of Journals for Indoor Air International Perry R., Environmental Technology Letters. February 21, 1990. 2 pp. Philip Morris Bates No. 2028377579/7580
  14. Untitled memorandum to Mansour, M. Lister C. September 20, 1993. Philip Morris Bates No.2025840644/0645
  15. Asia ETS Consultant Status Report Billings DM, Rupp JP. Report. February 14, 1990. Philip Morris Bates No. 2500048976/8998. 23 pp at p.12
  16. Gaisch H., FTR Science and Technology Monthly Report Highlights 890700 Memorandum. July 31, 1989. Philip Morris Bates No.2021598934/8938
  17. Press release international conference to address environmental impact of VOCs Indoor Air International. October 6, 1993. Press release. Philip Morris Bates No.2025840664/0665
  18. A Creeping Epidemic in the Modern Office. Are Smokers Scapegoats? Dietrich D., Basler Zeitung. News article, June 19, 1991. Philip Morris Bates No. 2028463351/3354
  19. European Consultancy Programme ARIA and EGIL 881000 - 891000 Covington & Burling. Note/list. October 24, 1989. Philip Morris Bates No. 2500019903/9911
  20. Activity Report - summaryAuthor unknown. November 28, 1990. 11 pp. Philip Morris Bates No.2022887950/7960
  21. Dr. Walk's Suggestion Akiyama Y. Japan Tobacco, Inc. Transmittal. July 4, 2001. 2 pp. Philip Morris Bates No. 2067227473/7474

External resources

External articles

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