Mark J. Reasor

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

Mark J. Reasor, M.D. was a pulmonary toxicologist at West Virginia University Medical School, and a participant in the Tobacco Institute's Indoor Air Pollution Advisory Group (IAPAG).

His value as a consultant to the Tobacco Institute is obvious from this Critique of the Report Entitiled Environmental Tobacco Smoke; A compendium of Technical Information. This is an EPA report that he has given to critique by the Tobacco Institute; the industry's way of checking the value of a scientist before approaching him formally. They are especially interested in any Journal editors.

  • He is on the Editorial Board of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology
  • Assoc Editor of the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health
  • He has published one book chapter and one review article on ETS:
  1. "Environmental Tobacco Smoke: proceedings of the International Symposium at McGill University" (D Ecobichon and JM Wu eds) Lexington Books, 1990
  2. "The composition and dynamics of ETS" (Journal of Environmental Health 1987) [1]
The McGill University ETS Symposium proceedings is a sure sign that he was working for Philip Morris before November 1989]

In this review they are looking for scientists who can find legitimate (or seemingly rational) ways of criticising scientists who have found health problems with tobacco smoke.

He became important enough to the tobacco industry to have become one of the foundation members of the IAPAG which was set up alongside the Center for Environmental Health & Human Toxicology (CEHHT) at Georgetown University. IAPAG was the pseudo-scientice association, while the CEHHT acted more as a job-agency, laundering the payments and pretending to be a department of the university. Both organisations were set up and run by Philip Witorsch, Sorell Schwartz and Nancy Balter for the tobacco industry.

Reasor regularly worked with, and communicated with S James Kilpatrick and Rafael Witorsch on various tobacco projects, mainly to do with second-hand smoke (ETS- passive smoking). He also worked with James A Will.

Documents & Timeline

1967 BS in Biochemistry from Purdue Uni

1969 MA from Duke Uni

1975-76 post-doctoral work in pharmacology NIEHS, NC

1975 PhD in Biochemical Toxicology from Johns Hopkins Uni

1976 Assist Prof of Pharmacology and Toxicology, West Virginia Uni

1984 Tenure at Uni (certified in general toxicology by the American Board of Toxicology.

1986 Aug The Regional Vice Presidents (RVPs) and Regional Directors (RDs) of the Tobacco Institute in charge of various areas have supplied comments on their Economic Witnesses and other resources.

Scientific Witness Program
A. Use and Effectiveness
The scientific witness program is the most highly regarded resource available to the field staff.

With the witnesses being used primarily for testifying at legislative and administrative hearings (40) and briefings (22), this program was given the highest effectiveness rating (1.6) of all resources evaluated. Seven RVPs described the program as an extremely valuable resource, perhaps "the most important" one the industry has in opposing public smoking restriction legislation.

The scientific witnesses were especially effective in one-on-one briefings of legislators, according to several RVPs. Such briefings, one pointed out, have several advantages:

  1. A rapport between legislator and witness is established, enhancing the possibility of a more comfortable exchange of views during the hearing # Briefing familiarizes legislator with the issue, improving the chances of "good" questioning of witness during the hearing.
  2. The day-before briefing makes for more efficient use of the likely limited witness time at the hearing.

B. Strengths and Weaknesses
The strong point of this resource is obvious: Well-credentialed, knowledgeable, independent scientists speaking out in a public forum in opposition to inconclusively based claims about adverse health consequences of environmental tobacco smoke.

The key weakness of the program is equally obvious: The Tobacco Institute is the identified funding source for the scientific witnesses. Institute sponsorship trigqers a legislative perception that these witnesses are less objective, less credible than a witness not funded by TI.

Several other weaknesses were identified:

  • The witnesses are not locally recognized experts, frequently causing them to be viewed as "outsiders" or "hired guns.".
  • Witnesses' hearing presentations are sometimes too long and complicated. Limited allocated witness time and legislators' lack of scientific background requires, if possible, a simple, relatively brief statement by the witness.

Although no Regional VP indicated any problem with the current frequency of use of the witnesses, at least five RVPs voiced concern about possible future "over-zealous use" of these scientific witnesses.

More specifically, the concern was that if there is "over-use" or "saturation" -- a point not easily defined -- the witnesses will:

  • Be "branded... industry witnesses," diminishing their credibility and effectiveness;
  • Be subiected to targeted rebuttal by anti-smokers; and
  • Become "gun shy" from the emotionally-based charges leveled at them.

C. Specific Witnesses
Five Regional VPs had specific comments on the various experts. A few weaknesses were noted. However, the witnesses are held in high regard and valued by the field staff. In particular, Nancy Balter [of IAPAG and Georgetown University] and Gray Robertson [of the ACVA/HBI air testing company] were judged to be among the most effective scientific witnesses in the program.

One RVP described Dr Balter as "the best;" noting her presentation and style to be simple, direct and positive, without being offensive. A tendency for her presentation and responses to be "long" was noted by another RVP who considers her an "excellent" witness.

Gray Robertson is viewed as a most useful witness. Not only is he a polished and well-spoken expert, his findinqs effectively communicate the relatively insignificant role of ETS in the overall indoor air quality controversy. His testimony "dilutes" the criticism directed at the other scientific witnesses.

[There is also an appended note on Page 15 on the need to find buildings for Gray Robinson's company to test for indoor air quality -- and then pronounce that smoking has little contribution to the pollution]

The styles of Philip Witorsch and Sorell Schwartz [both of the IAPAG and Georgetown University] were contrasted in an evaluation. Dr. Schwartz is thought of as an effective witness in those situations calling for an aggressive, no-holds-barred witness. Unlike Dr. Witorsch who can successfully rebut an "attack" in a diplomatic fashion, Dr. Schwartz is a bit more free-wheeling in responding to legislative criticism -- a sometimes desirable trait.

Some concern was voiced by an RVP over the effectiveness of Mark Reasor . Dr. Reasor's effectiveness is adversely affected by his inability to "close the sale" in a legislative hearing. Where, for example, Dr. Balter or Dr, Witorsch can readily handle the frequently encountered problem of last-minute cuts in a witness's allotted time, such a situation "freaks out" Dr. Reasor.

D. MD vs. PhD

[Field staff comments were invited on the relative effectiveness of MD and PhD credentials, and on the use of a mixed team (MDs and PhDs) approach to testimony.]

A majority of the RVPs felt that a physician's testimony is received more favorably than that of a witness holding a PhD. Not only is an MD's testimony given from a legislatively "perceived pedestal," legislators are more interested in hearing health issues addressed by doctors, not PhDs. Also, anti-smoking groups usually have a local doctor testifying on the purported health hazards of ETS. Such a witness's testimony is enhanced by the person's local residency and medical credentials.

On the relative advantages of using an MD or PhD, two cautionary observations were made.

  • First, as soon as an MD's funding from the tobacco industry is revealed, that witness loses the "pedestal" advantage.
  • Second, although an MD may enjoy a greater believability, a physician does not always make a better witness. In other words, credentials alone do not determine the effectiveness of a witness.
[They recommend having the scientific witness arrive a day before the hearing for 1. briefing by the TI's legal counsel 2. giving one-to-one briefings for legislators 3. providing publicity operations. They also suggest that the Tobacco Institute "Continue to enhance the witnesses' professional reputation and scientific objectivity." [2]

1987 Mar 2 A further Activities Report by Jack Shoemaker at the Florida office of the Tobacco Institute.

  • Made arrangements for travel to Tallahassee by Mr. & Mrs. Peter Binnie (ACVA), Mark Reasor and Carl Johnson for ETS briefing.
  • Had conference with Ron Morris, Ann Gordon (NTC) and Peter Binnie regarding ETS and coalition work.
  • Attended luncheon of Florida coalition group at Governor's Club regarding ETS with Peter Binnie.
  • Dinner for Florida Legislators canceled for lack of attendance.
  • Accompanied Mark Reasor and Peter Binnie on tour of Tallahassee, and had dinner to discuss legislative program.


1987 Sep 28 Philip Morris List of "Scientific Witness/ACVA Staff

1988-90 Tobacco Institute Consultant Activity list for these three years.

Mark Reasor, Ph.D. West Virginia University Medical Center,

  • 11/89 Delivered paper at McGill University ETS symposium
  • 2/90 Prepared comments on chapters 5-8 of EPA ETS Compendium
  • 6/90 Response to MacLure in American Journal of Public Health (Published)
  • 10/90 Comments on EPA ETS risk assessment (emphasis on differences between ETS and mainstream smoke). For SAB presentation and subsequent publication
  • 10/90 Comments on EPA workplace policy guide

'Current Projects: Response to articles in Journal of the Air Pollution Control Association (ETS measurement) [5]

[The McGill University ETS Symposium held in Montreal in November 1989 was a completely closed conference run by Philip Morris to train their tame scientists in the problems of passive smoking, and to create a cabal of corrupt scientists and issues-managing executives.
The Environmental Protection Agency's risk assessment on ETS was to determine whether the evidence existed that second-hand smoke was carcinogenic (it was).]

1988/E ETS AG Projects list This document also has alist of the then current IAPAG members:

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