From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

1988 late-1989 The Tobacco Institute began assembling its Scientific Witness Team in late 1988-89. This was a travelling circus of corrupt scientific lobbyists who were paid to tour around America and speak on radio, appear on TV, give lectures and meet the press -- expressing opinions favoured by the tobacco industry.

These media tours were usually under the control of PR firm Fleishman Hillard and the 'expert' might be the lone speaker, or one in a pair or larger groups. Essentially the same group of lobbyists also made appearances at town hall meetings, state legislative hearings and local ordinance conferences. They were paid generously and given good expense accounts, feted by a young staffer at Fleishman Hillard, and treated to the best hotels. They were sometimes promoting their own businesses at the same time. The Tobacco Institute also had its own names for these groups, mainly based on the message they were expected to promote.

The Truth Squad: This group varied, but the core participants were:

{To preserve the appearance of "Truth" the "Truth Squad" members were not to be accompanied by Tobacco Institute staff.]

Media Tours:

Healthy Buildings International the HVAC/IAQ testing company owned by Gray Robertson had three staff members (including himself) who were paid to speak on media tours and appear as scientific witnesses.
  • Gray Robertson ran the company and handled general media tours
  • Peter Binnie was the partner to Roberson in the original company ACVA. He was included in the list (but no assignments)
  • Jeff Seckler made Legislative appearances at hearings (He later became a whistleblower)
  • Simon Turner made Legislative appearances (He was the son of UK's top tobacco lobbyist AD CliveTurner
Holcomb Environmental Services owned and run by Larry Holcomb was second only to Gray Robertson's HBI as a tobacco-friendly IAQ testing company. They had two main members of the SWT as well as their normal IAQ testing operations
  • Larry Holcomb made appearances also at Legislative Hearings.
  • Joseph Pedelty who was Holcomb's chief of staff, also did Legislative work.
Walter J Decker ran the Toxicology Consultancy Services, and did a range of different tours.
Lawrence Halfen ran Envionmental Consultants Inc. and did Legislative Appearances.
ENV Services (a subsidiary of Environmental Air Controls did surreptitious air quality testing when required. It was run by James Flannery. He also worked for the Business Council on Indoor Air (BCIA) -- run by Paul Cammer -- which also worked with the Tobacco Institute.

Social Cost Tours:

These were run by the Cash-for-Comments Economists Network Their tours spread propaganda about the "Social Costs" of legislation restricting smoking in public place. They had a grand theory that the extra pressure of not-smoking cost a fortune in irritability of smokers, and general discontent.
  • Economics Professor R Morris Coats was used for Legislative hearings. He was from Marshall and Nicholls State Universities.

Responsible Living Tours:

  • Jolly Ann Davidson was an educationalist, and the President of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). She was paid to spread the idea that the tobacco industry was not trying to recruit young smokers, and her evidence was that they funded the NASBE's "Helping Youth Decide" project. This promoted the tobacco industry's was "Responsible Living Program" (with its own Foundation) -- a series of sermons made to be taught in the classroom, telling teenagers that they shouldn't smoke until they were mature. This was, to the rebellious youth, about as successful as telling them they shouldn't masturbate.

Workplace Seminars:

Run mainly by lawyers John C Fox and Dennis Vaughn who specialised in labor relations. They worked through Pettit & Martin and Pilbury Madison & Sutro, and they ran a series of seminars to explain to the workshop and office managers why smoking restrictions were counter-production and an infringement of human rights.

Editorial Board Tours:

These were done by Gray Robertson who had proved to be especially convincing with journalists, and also by Michael L Davis an economics professor from Southern Methodist Uni in Dallas, Texas.

US Chambers of Commerce:

  • William Orzechowski was an Assistant Economics Professor from a number of universities. He held various other transient positions including working with the Chambers of Commerce and US Treasury, and he later joined the TI as an Economic Advisor. He was not a good speaker but his credentials made him worthwhile at Town meetings and Legislative appearances. [1]