Latin Project

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

The Latin Project was the short name for Philip Morris' Environmental Tobacco Smoke Consultants Project in Central and South America, aimed at generating favorable data regarding secondhand tobacco smoke and disseminating interpretations of the data to the public and media through a stable of pro-industry Latin scientific consultants.

The "Latin Project" was initiated in early 1991, and by 1993 included thirteen consultants from seven countries: Argentina Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala and Venezuela. The consultants represented a wide variety of scientific disciplines, including chemistry and biochemistry, epidemiology, oncology and pulmonary and cardiovascular medicine. The Latin Project in 1993 received forty percent of its funding from Philip Morris International. The Latin Project was managed by the tobacco industry law firm Covington & Burling.

Unlike many other regional environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) consultant programs sponsored by the industry that were reactive, the Latin Project was proactive, that is, it was initiated in anticipation of, rather than in reaction to, the full-force arrival of the secondhand smoke issue to Central and South America. Using the consultants, the Latin Project aimed to generate pro-industry scientific data, literature and commentary that the consultants could then use to respond to an increasing number of media claims of adverse health effects from secondhand smoke exposure as well as to oppose government initiatives to ban or restrict smoking in public places.

Critical to the success of the Latin Project was the generation and promotion of pro-industry scientific data, not only with respect to secondhand smoke, but also to other potential indoor and outdoor air contaminants. Other contaminants were brought into the picture to help confound conclusions about the part secondhand smoke plays in creating disease, and broaden the issue of indoor tobacco smoke into one of overall indoor air pollution to take the focus off cigarettes as a point-source of indoor air pollution. This "broadening the issue" approach helped encourage government agencies and media in Central and South America to resist pressure from public health groups to regulate indoor secondhand smoke in these regions.

The Latin Project included activities like holding scientific conferences, performing field studies on air quality, placing articles about air quality in popular publications, and putting out quarterly newsletters targeted toward building owners and managers, government officials and others in a position to influence policies on indoor air quality and, more specifically, smoking in public places. Latin Project Consultants strove to publish approximately five pro-industry scientific articles each year in international journals addressing indoor air quality and secondhand smoke issues. After publication, each article would be promoted in local and regional media. [1]


Related Sourcewatch resources

External resources

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Perspectives in Health Science for Sale Volume 8, Number 1, 2003

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