WhiteCoats (Doc Index)
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WhiteCoats were scientists and medical specialists who were recruited by Philip Morris (and later the other tobacco companies) to provide a special form of witness service. Initially the recruitment was conducted under the name (say) Asian ETS Consultants Project or Asian Witness Program. The industry's purpose was to develop and promote industry propaganda, not to actually further real research or education. [Note: from the viewpoint of the WhiteCoat, of course, it was virtually a guarantee of research funding when needed.]
WhiteCoats were recruited in the USA and Europe - then Scandinavia - then in Asia, mainly by lawyers John Rupp and Clauson Ely at Covington & Burling (C&B) and by a special scientific recruiting company, The Weinberg Group (TWG) [aka WashTech] run by Myron Weinberg. The process was complicated because the industry didn't want to reveal its hand too openly, but needed to ensure that those recruited would be willing to provide the global services required ... namely:
- support in attacking some legitimate scientific/medical studies as "unsound" or "junk" - others as credible...
- attending conferences, either to report on the proceedings, or perhaps to present a paper (secretly funded by tobacco);
- attend hearings of legislatures as witnesses who would claim to be independent experts;
- give evidence at some court cases.
- publish books on the subject of indoor air quality and pollution (exonerating tobacco smoke, of course)
The key to the success of all these activities was for the scientist to maintain that they "had never taken a penny from the tobacco industry" (they were paid by lawyers), or, at least, that they'd only ever received an incidental payment or a minor grant. For this reason they were grouped into consortia which provided them with further credibility ("member of ..."), a front, and a money-laundering service:
- Indoor Air Pollution Advisory Group (IAPAG) was the first of these. Run by Nancy Balter, Sorrell Schwartz and Philip Witorsch at Georgetown University USA. It had a half-dozen other members who worked diligently for tobacco.
IAPAG also had a subsidiary designed to collect industry grants: the Center for Environmental Health and Human Toxicology.(CEHHT)
- Associates for Research on Indoor Air (ARIA) established by Professor Roger Perry at the Imperial College London, with the grunt work being done by George B Leslie and Frank Lunau
They had a subsidiary Indoor Air International (IAI) which acted as an umbrella organisation; maintaining a newsletter, and running heavily-loaded scientific conferences.
- Expert Group on Indoor Air ('Luft') or EGIL (Swedish term) was established by Torbjorn Malmfors along with Odd Nilssen of Norway, Bo Mikaelson, Daniel Thorburn and Arne Westlin of Sweden, and Annuka Leppanen of Finland.
- Asian Regional Tobacco Industry Science Team (ARTIST) came next. It was slightly different in nature and it had wound down to 8 Japanese scientists in 1996.
- Asian Pacific Association for Indoor Air Quality (APAIAQ) seems to have been created when the Asian WhiteCoats program had a full complement of 11 academics. It appears to have encompassed Japan -- it had 22 members.
- Eastern Mediterranean Indoor Environment Society (EMIES) based in Cairo at Ain Shams University;
- Latin American (unknown)
It is important to appreciate that while all of the associates of these organisations were classed by tobacco industry executives as WhiteCoats, not all the recruited WhiteCoats were enrolled in these societies. Some preferred to remain independent and keep their distance from the others.
It is also important to understand that the existence of these groups of scientific collaborators also automatically provided a corrupt scientist with back-up if he/she was ever challenged. In fact the groups provided a guaranteed 'peer-review' list for anyone who published some research. Roger Perry, George Leslie and Frank Lunau all edited and/or published scientific journals on indoor air pollution -- so these became the "peer-reviewed journals" of Indoor Air Quality research ... and many politicians still think that peer-review is a guarantee of scientific integrity and accuracy.
Closed corporate-funded conferences run by these groups for the tobacco industry also served multiple purposes:
- * Since many of the recruits had no real knowledge of the subject, the conferences served as basic instruction
- * Since neophyte recruits had no recognised qualifications, they could be given industry-drafted speeches to make ... which would then be published in the proceedings of the conference and act as a 'peer-review citation'. A way of creating instant experts. See McGill University ETS Symposium
- * They could socialise with other WhiteCoats and therefore have reliable sources of future advice and collaboration.
- * The tobacco industry was wealthy enough to create and publicise such conferences around the globe (usually at some exotic location) this allowed them and their 'experts' to dominate the scientific literature in subjects of the industry's own choosing.
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Documents and Timeline
For information about the activities and payments made to IAPAG, ARIA, EGIL, etc. listed above, see their individual entries. Other tobacco industry front groups were also often involved.
1993 Dec 15 Philip Morris International staff organised:
- A symposia with Covington & Burling on IAQ related issues in Cairo, Warsaw and St. Petersberg (via Charles Lister). This is their WhiteCoats program.
- a briefing by TASSC for both New York and Washindton DC- based foreign journalists representing the European Community (EC) and East Europe, Mediterranean and Africa (EEMA) media on "the increasing use of poor science as the basis for poor public policy.  They obvious already had plans to extend the junk-science scam on a global scale.