Harvard Center for Risk Analysis and Big Tobacco

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

Based on the documents available at the time, Public Citizen, compiled a telling profile on the relationship between Philip Morris and John D. Graham as part of its report Safeguards at risk: John Graham and Corporate America's Back Door to the Bush White House. [2] Graham founded and was director of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (HCRA) from 1990 to 2001.

Executive order

As an integral part of this campaign, in 1992 Philip Morris was tracking political developments with regard to a sweeping "risk assessment" executive order that was awaiting signature by then-President H.W Bush. The executive order would have imposed a requirement on all government agencies to decide the validity and priority of regulatory proposals in terms of rigid risk estimates and would have mandated clearance of all regulations through a centralized office, in violation of many agencies' direct authorization from Congress to act to protect the public health and safety.

Harvard Center for Risk Analysis
Harvard Center for Risk Analysis and Big Tobacco
Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, the Fishing Industry and Mercury
HCRA (Doc Index)

Philip Morris was working closely with governmental officials on the precise terms of the executive order. Corporate documents reflect ongoing conversations between Philip Morris and Thorne Auchter, who was a former Administrator of OSHA who had been appointed in 1992 to the President's Risk Assessment and Management Commission. Auchter ran the anti-regulation pseudo-organisation known as the Institute for Regulatory Policy (IRP).

According to PR Watch, Philip Morris had given Jim Tozzi, of Multinational Business Services (MBS), $880,000 to establish IRP, a nonprofit 'think tank' which would work with both Philip Morris and APCO & Associates (then the private PR company run by Philip Morris's lawyers).Philip Morris documents reflect a monthly payment to IRP of $25,000 in 1993, and further payments of $40,000 a month to Multinational Business Services (MBS). This organization was owned by Auchter and his associate Jim Tozzi, who was working on "the need for scientific standards" in the areas of ETS, radon in water, chlorinated water and electro-magnetic fields. According to PR Watch, the "junk man" Steven Milloy (TASSC) also worked with Tozzi at MBS.

Auchter wrote to Philip Morris officials on the letterhead of Wayne Valis' Coalition for Uniform Risk Evaluation (CURE) to discuss a White House meeting that he had attended regarding the 1991 draft of the executive order. Auchter's 1991 memo contains his handwritten notes addressed to Philip Morris officials, in which he points out an inconsistency in the text of the draft executive order and suggests that the highlighted language might enable Philip Morris to re-open the EPA's pending risk assessment on passive smoking. See more.

Risk Science, Analysis & Management
Risk Assessment History/tobacco
Risk Assessment & Management Commission
Task Force on Regulatory Relief (WhiteHouse)
Delaney Clause (Food, Drug Act)
ILSI Risk Science Institute
Society for Risk Analysis
Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (HCRA)
Harvard Group on Risk Management Reform (HGRMR)
Resources for the Future
Coalition for Uniform Risk Estimation (CURE)
Institute for Regulatory Policy (IRP)

Mayada Logue, a Philip Morris third-level staffer in their Corporate Affairs division was assigned to maintain a watch over risk assessment/ETS issues for the company's Worldwide Regulatory Affairs (WRA) group. As she reported on her monthly activities for February 1992, Philip Morris officials were evidently very interested in risk assessment. She provided the details of several ongoing studies of ETS and cancer risks, and indicated her concern that one study might demonstrate that ETS does incur serious health problems.

Logue also wrote that a comprehensive "Risk Assessment Project" notebook "describing the activities of approximately 40 groups involved in risk assessment" had been completed, and mentioned that she had gone to a lunch meeting with Harvard's John Graham. At their meeting, Graham had provided Logue with specifics about two meetings that he had recently had ... one with Thorne Auchter concerning the Executive Order and the other with lawyer C. Boyden Gray, President Bush's General Council. (and an heir to the RJ Reynolds Tobacco fortune);

Both Auchter and Gray were very involved with the early and mid-90s regulatory reform efforts. Gray held positions on Reagan's regulatory relief commission and was White House Counsel for Bush I. Gray later served on HCRA's Executive Council, and he also as an adviser on the transition of Bush II.

Logue’s memorandum continued:"John Graham is writing a book about the unintended risks we take when attempting to avoid other risks. There will be a chapter on smoking in the book. He said that most of the information in that chapter is from the Surgeon General’s Report and asked if we would review it for accuracy. Bob Pages has agreed to review it".

Pages was an employee of Philip Morris in the company’s “Scientific Affairs” division. One may wonder why a corporate executive from Philip Morris was asked by Graham to review his research on ETS.

It appears that Graham first became involved with Philip Morris in October 1991. On October 18 of that year, he called Logue to set up a meeting in Washington, and the meeting was duly scheduled. On October 21, Graham solicited donations from Philip Morris to HCRA. Graham’s letter noted that the Center had “major projects underway in carcinogen classification,risk assessment, public health priorities, and the use (and misuse) of risk numbers in environmental legislation.”

Graham went on:"The Center has been launched primarily with gifts from the following corporations: the Amoco Company, Bethlehem Steel Corporation, British Petroleum, Chevron Corporation, The Coca Cola Company, Dow Chemical Company, Eastman Kodak Company, Exxon Corporation, General Electric Corporation, General Motors, Inland Steel Industries, Merck and Company, Mobil Oil Corporation, the Monsanto Company,Pepsico Incorporated, Rohm and Haas Company, Texaco, Union Carbide Corporation,and Westinghouse Corporation."
Graham went on: Stating that the “Center is now looking to a broader base of industrial sources to supply critical funding for the years ahead,” Graham asked for a meeting with the Vice President of Government Affairs at Philip Morris and the sum of $25,000:
"in financial support in 1992 and 1993 that can help the Center expand its public policy activities. It is important for me to learn more about the risk-related challenges that you face."
In an internal memorandum, Bob Pages supported the idea of getting acquainted with Graham and learning about the Center based upon this last sentence from Graham’s letter, writing to Steve Parrish, General Counsel for Philip Morris, that:
Why not take him up on the offer? Sure, he’s after $ to help support his Center, but whether or not PM [Philip Morris] decides to contribute it’s more important to meet him and perhaps get ‘looped in’ better with his activities. From all that Mayada [Logue] has learned, [Graham] is a key player in all this risk analysis stuff that’s currently going on in the government.
Subsequent documents show that Graham was probably successful in his bid. Philip Morris drafted a check in the amount of $25,000. Strangely, the company later, evidently at Graham’s request, placed a stop payment on that check. But in August 1992 Graham received $20,000 to be spent over two years from Philip Morris’s subsidiary, Kraft General Foods. The letter from Kraft’s Vice President of Scientific Relations, Enrique Guardia, stated that the money was intended “to support the work of the Center, in general, and your contributions to the food safety debate (Pesticides). I would like to meet from time to time to discuss topics of mutual interest.”
Kraft executive Guardia also responded in another letter to a funding proposal from Graham, in which Graham announced the launch of an “effort to increase food industry support for work on food safety legislation.” Graham’s letter evidently had asked Guardia for the names of other potential corporate donors for the new project and had named the sum to be solicited from the food sector as $25 million. This amount of money was so grossly high that Guardia demurred: “You know fund raising better than I, but your request of $25 M strikes me as excessive in a year like 1992. Ask yourself whether you would not be better off asking for $10 M.”
What did Philip Morris get for its money and bit of assistance locating additional funding sources for Graham? One item contained in the Philip Morris files is a letter on HCRA letterhead from Graham to Jonathan B. Wiener in June 1992. At the time, Wiener was the policy counsel of the Bush I White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the senior staff economist for environmental and regulatory issues at the White House Council of Economic Advisors. Wiener was also working on Bush I’s draft executive order on economic analysis and later would assist Clinton in crafting his Executive Order on Regulatory Review.
The subject line of Graham’s letter to Wiener read: “The Release of Risk Assessment as a Regulatory or Policy Action: The Case of ETS.” In the letter, Graham suggested that the EPA’s recent risk assessment process on ETS should have been part of a formal rulemaking. Despite having very recently solicited money from Philip Morris, Graham wrote to Wiener: “since I am not an expert on ETS, I don’t know whether EPA’s report is based on good science . . . If one is trying to make a case against smoking, the EPA risk assessment is certainly good ammunition.”
Graham’s letter to Wiener continued:"In light of this example, think more broadly about future EPA risk assessments of electromagnetic fields, video display monitors, styrene, formaldehyde, carbon dioxide emissions, and so forth. As matters stand now, the White House and the nation are very vulnerable to EPA (or other agency) risk assessments that are not based on sound science or do not adequately convey the degree of uncertainty in the science. . . A small, yet wellqualified group of risk assessors in the White House could make an enormous difference on these issues, particularly if they established credibility among agency risk assessors."
Graham’s letter did not disclose his relationship with Philip Morris, which was relevant to his framing of the EPA’s work on ETS. Nor did Graham’s letter mention the considerable funding that Graham has received from: 1) power companies and utilities, which closely monitor the debate over the safety of electromagnetic fields, 2) many chemical conglomerates, including DuPont, the American Chemistry Council and Dow, which makes styrene, and 3) numerous auto makers and energy and oil concerns with a direct stake in the fight over carbon dioxide emissions. [3]

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External links

To further research the Harvard Center in the tobacco industry documents: <tdo>search_term=Harvard Center for Risk Analysys<tdo>