Asian WhiteCoats

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

WhiteCoats were scientists who were recruited by the tobacco industry on the understanding that they would not be exposed to colleagues or their institutions as being on contract to tobacco interests. They were therefore able to attend conferences, act as witnesses, and give media briefings where they could maintain that they were 'independent' and not subject to industry influences. In effect they were scientific 'moles' or 'sleepers' who could pretend to be impartial, while actively lobbying for the industry.

The original WhiteCoats were recruited in the USA at Georgetown University, and grouped into a pseudo association of experts in indoor air quality (IAPAG). But they were not generally called 'WhiteCoats' within the industry because they became too well known and established as tobacco supporters before the term was widely used. Generally the term used was simply ETS Consultants. (ETS = Environmental Tobacco Smoke)

The term WhiteCoats only found favour when recruitment began seriously in Britain and Europe under the guidance of tobacco lawyer John Rupp of Covington & Burling and the science recruiting firm the Weinberg Group (also known as the Washington Technical Information Group - WashTech or WTIR) run by Myron S Weinberg. Freelance toxicologist George B Leslie and Professor Roger Perry of the ARIA group were also called upon to help.

This operation was initially funded by Philip Morris. It ran under the control of Andrew Whist from the company's Corporate Affairs department in New York, supported by his Hong-Kong counterpart (also an Australian) John Dollison at Philip Morris Asia in Hong Kong.

The Asian Whitecoats were probably the last cadre of WhiteCoats to be recruited {See WhiteCoats). This project was initially called the Asian ETS Consultants Program but it became known to everyone as the "Asian WhiteCoats" program. The organisation itself was launched at a meeting at the offices of Philip Morris in Hong Kong in January 1989. With this extension of their science-corruption program, Philip Morris was now supported financially by RJ Reynolds, Brown & Williamson (the UK BAT), and (they hoped by) Japan Tobacco inc.

The two most notable Asian drivers of the Asian WhiteCoats program were the Hong Kong consultant/organiser, Sarah Liao and (the secretive) Dr Linda Koo who later went on to work with a Scandinavian science corrupter Ragnar Rylander. Professor John Bacon-Shone also had considerable input.


Each of the coteries of WhiteCoats were formed into what purported to be a 'Scientific Association' of indoor air experts. IAPAG was the first, followed by ARIA in the UK and Europe, and EGIL in Scandinavia. The Asian Whitecoats were formed into a pseudo-scientific association called ARTIST which stood for Asian Regional Tobacco Industry Scientists Team. It held a number of conferences, some of which were held simultaneously with CIAR (Center for Indoor Air Research) meetings. [2]

The association was generally considered a failure. In July 2001 it was being run by Dr Yukio Akiyama of Japan Tobacco, and it had about two dozen members -- but most of these were tobacco staff members from the different Asian companies (the paid ETS Consultants had been exposed in the tobacco archives, and dropped out). Dr Roger Walk of Philip Morris USA made the suggestion at an ARTIST meeting on July 4 2001 that "We dissolve ARTIST and form APTRC (Asia Pacific Tobacco Research Conference)."

Walk suggested that they should have no charter or constitution or bylaws for APTRC, and they realised that Philip Morris probably wouldn't attend future ARTIST meetings [3]