George R Berman

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

George Berman was a PR employee of Philip Morris in New York who became an outside contractor through his family company Devon Management Resources. Berman was the driving force behind the Social Acceptability Working Party (SAWP) of ICOSI (International Committee on Smoking Issues), which was the international lobbying and strategy organisation put together by the major tobacco firms and based in Brussels.

Berman was one of the first to foresee the dangers the industry faced from passive smoking (until then, the emphasis had been on lung-cancer and heart attacks among the smokers themselves). He therefore emphasise the need to create a communal discussion on social costs. This project became Operation Berkshire from which emerged ICOSI, the International Committee on Smoking Issues. He assisted ICOSI with organization and implementing the Social Costs/Social Values Project. This created a subset known as the SAWP (Social Acceptability Working Party). He appears to have been on a social costs working group with the Tobacco Institute arouned 1979-80.

ICOSI was managed by another ex-Philip Morris employee, lawyer Mary W Covington, but Berman was the ideas man. One of his most productive ideas (from the viewpoint of the tobacco industry) was to suggest the creation of a network of economists, all with prestigious positions as economic (and law/business) professors in the State Universities. The value here was that they would be receptive to cash-for-comment deals, provided the arrangement was kept confidential.

The job of creating the network was given to James M (Jim) Savarese (originally at Ogilvy & Mather, later with James Savarese & Associates) under the guidance of Professor Robert D Tollison of George Mason University. It became the infamous Cash for Comments Economists Network.

Documents & Timeline

1976 Sep - Feb. 1979 (estimate, could have been longer) He was a Philip Morris employee in their New York office.

1979 He then left Philip Morris to become independent consultant (c. 1979). He appears to have established his own company, Devon Management Resources, Inc. before he left Philip Morris.

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