Center for Environmental Health & Human Toxicology

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

The Center for Environmental Health & Human Toxicology began life as the Center for Environmental Health at Georgetown University. It was created by academics in the area of Pharmacy as a consulting company, to allow them to run a highly profitable sideline in providing scientific training and witness services to companies with a poisoning and polluting problems. The founders were Georgetown University professors Sorell Schwartz and Nancy Balter along with Philip Witorsch and his brother Ray Witorsch. This group, along with a number of their associates had been recruited by tobacco lawyer John Rupp of Covington & Burling (C&B) for Philip Morris and the Tobacco Institute into a faux-scientific organisation known as the Indoor Air Pollution Advisory Group (IAPAG). This lobby group had a focus only on Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) with the aim of discounting the potential health threats of passive smoking.

Covington & Burling also created for the tobacco industry another group,known as the Scientific Witness Team (SWT) which could fire-fight for the tobacco industry whenever anti-smoking groups appeared likely to cause problems with local ordinance changes, or legislative changes. IAPAG trained the SWT in the science, and Ogilvy & Mather trained them in handling the media and in other aspects of the passive smoking problem. Some basic legal knowledge was imparted by Covington & Burling and Fleishman-Hillard accompanied those sent out on media tours.

The Science Witness Team were then made available to the Tobacco Institute's regional directors whenever they had a problem in a local city or large town. This was a highly organised, well administered operation which was generously funded by the tobacco companies.

THIS IS A SPLIT ENTRY
Ctr. for Env. Health & Human Tox, (CEHHT)
Indoor Air Pollution Advisory Group (IAPAG)
IAPAG/CEHHT (Doc Index) & Timeline
Scientific Witness Team (SWT)

The CEHHT therefore was able to consult on a wider range of health concerns than either the IAPAG or SWT, which both had a focus only on the tobacco industry ... although tobacco interests in air pollution extended to denial of climate change. Along with the Edison Electric Institute, the tobacco industry attempted to discredit a wide range of environmental scientists and their claim to knowledge about the health dangers of air pollution.

Consulting Services

In effect, the Center for Environmental Health & Human Toxicology was a consulting firm that provided litigation consulting, literature review and analysis, training of experts in ETS, the testimonial of expert witnesses, and any other service related to scientific or technical issues involving ETS. By hiding it in Georgetown University, it appeared to be a division of the academic institution, which added to the credibility of the consultants who operated under the CEHHT banner.

They extended the range of their consulting to the more general coverage of environmental health and general toxicology while continuing to include secondhand smoke and indoor air quality issues via the subsidiary organisation of IAPAG.

The CEHHT claims to have been formally established in 1982 by Sorrell Schwartz, and Philip Witorsch. But by 1985, the CEHHT was operating under the control (probably financially) of Covington & Burling to provide scientific testimony to legislative bodies on behalf of the Tobacco Institute and other tobacco industry members. CEHHT also held and managed an environmental tobacco smoke database for industry consultants and law firms. This project was, again, administered and funded through the tobacco industry law firm of Covington & Burling.[1][2]

Rafael Witorsch's deposition in the year 2000 case of California vs Philip Morris [2] says that, since 1984, he does most of his consulting work through the Center for Environmental Health and Human Toxicology (CEHHT), which he says is

  • a "private consulting group with a wide variety of clients."
  • The principal administrator of CEHHT is his brother Philip Witorsch.
  • In addition to ETS work for the tobacco industry they do chemical toxicology work for the food industry also.
  • He consults on ETS for the tobacco industry but not on active smoking.
  • The CEHHT handle the billing of clients, and he bills out at $400 per hour -- he gets half and the CEHHT takes the other half.

Documents and Timelines

References

  1. United States Department of Justice DOJ--PLAINTIFF'S FACTUAL MEMORANDUM TAB 4.PDF August 17, 2004. Bates No. 5001083663/5001083711
  2. CORESTA Web site, accessed October 9, 2008

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