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EGIL

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

This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

Other WhiteCoat organisations

EGIL was a Swedish acronym for Experts Group for Indoor Air. (Luft=Air) According to a 2004 United States Department of Justice Factual Memorandum, it was was a Nordic Region front organization made up of tobacco industry consultants that acted on behalf of the tobacco industry on secondhand smoke and indoor air quality issues.[1]

EGIL was a subsidiary of Nordic Area Whitecoats. These were mainly Scandinavian academics who were enlisted by a Philip Morris (PM) consultant named Sven Eric Torbjorn Malmfors ('Tors Malmford'), and formed by him into this pseuo-science group. Malmfors himself became a member of the European/UK ARIA and US IAPAG groups also (Association for Research on Indoor Air and Indoor Air Pollution Advisory Group).[2]

Malmfors Recruitment

Malmfors was a toxicologist who had his own consulting business in Enebyberg, Sweden, and worked as Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. He was also the ex-President of the European Society of Toxicology. He was recruited for Philip Morris European Whitecoats group by the Center for Environmental Health and Human Toxicology's, (CEHHT) Nancy Balter in Washington, D.C. in March 1987.

The tobacco industry faced one problem in the Nordic area that they were not use to dealing with in the USA or in Thatcherite England: They had active unions who worked to protect the health and safety of their members, and workplace smoking was a major issue. This created a new form of consultant, usually a politician. [1] And in Sweden, the Magnusson Commission suggested severe workplace smoking restrictions in its recommendations presented in March 1990, while the newly-established National Health Institute (Fokhalsoinstitut) declared that workplaces should be smokefree. [2]

As with all Whitecoat recruitments, the name or business of the ultimate client, Philip Morris, was not revealed to the scientist until the scientist had reviewed papers provided. The strategy of having the scientist review papers and then report verbally -- to see whether his views were compatible with the client's obejectives -- was central to Whitecoat recruitment techniques.

A report to PM from the Indoor Air Pollution Advisory Group, or IAPAG, makes the process clear:[3]

We met with Malmfors when he was in Washington, to discuss, in general terms, his interest and ability to handle a project related to indoor air pollution, involving the identification and coordination of the activities of a number of academic scientists.

At that time, Malmfors indicated his interest in learning more about the project.

He appears to have solid connections within the scientific community. He is active in the European and Scandinavian Societies of Toxicology, has previously held governmental appointments, and his current work includes working with industry on regulatory matters.

We have just retained Malmfors to review a group of papers dealing with ETS and lung cancer, and [to] be prepared to discuss them during the week of April 13. We will make a recommendation on whether or not to pursue Malmafors Consulting AB as the local coordinator, after that discussion.

Nancy Balter of IAPAG was given the job of identifying the possible members of EGIL. [3] and by July 1987 she had identified seven candidates, but they needed vetting. John Rupp of Covington & Burling wrote to Philip Morris saying:

I am happy to report that Dr Torbjorn Malmfors has agreed, subject to your approval after meeting with him, to form and help manage a scientific advisory group on environmental tobacco smoke for the Nordic countries.
I am encouraged to believe that Dr. Malmfors' decision is the breakthrough that we have been looking for on the scientific side in the Nordic region.

Later Malmfors became involved in the infamous McGill University ETS Symposium (100% trusted tobacco scientists -- both speakers and audience)[4] and he did air-quality research work for the tobacco industry, and wrote some scientific reports which Chris Proctor at BAT vetted and modified[5] before publication.

Documents & Timeline

1988 Mar 11The first meeting of the EGIL group took place in Stockholm on 11 March 1988 [4] and those scientists present, in addition to the US recruiters and lawyers, were:

  • Dr. Torbjorn Malmfors full-time consultant to PM, of Sweden (ARIA also)
  • Dr. Odd Nilsen (or Nilssen) a tobacco chemist in Norway (invoiced via University of Trondheim [5] [6] ). [7]
  • Professor Bo Mikaelson: expert in compensation law, Lipkoping Uni. of Sweden (ARIA also)
  • Dr. Daniel Thorburn; statistician, University of Stockholm, Sweden
  • Dr. Arne Westlin; Occupational hygienist, Vallingby, Sweden
  • Ms Annuka Leppanen a Finnish general consultant - ex head of the smoking section of a government laboratory.

Later they were joined by:

  • Dr Tage Voss (disputed) Danish heart disease specialist who ran the HEN-RY smokers rights organisation. [8]

1988 Mar Helmut Gaisch's Monthly Report to Philip Morris (from FTR in Switzerland). He has many ARIA/EGIL-relevant entries in this month:

  • March 1 -- Evening meeting with:

    Dr John FACCINI, an English medical scientist who has a second residence in France, Ms. BOURGOIS (the French NMA called AFCC - the Cigarette Manufacturers Assn,) and Mr David REMES (C&B lawyer).
    Dr FACCINI, although being English, is a potential candidate to the position of chief ETS consultant in France. Dr. FACCINI was recommended to us through Drs (Francis) ROE and (George) LESLIE."

    [NMA = National Manufacturers Association. EGIL = Scandinavian version of ARIA.
    [[Francis JC Roe] and George B Leslie ran the ARIA operation in England.

  • March 10 -- [Reif, Gaisch and Rupp are meeting with],

    Dr Nancy BALTER (IAPAG) and Dr Tors MALMFORS held a preparatory meeting for the first EGIL (Swedish acronym for 'Expert Group for lndoor Air') coordination meeting to take place in Stockholm the following day.

    [Dr Nancy Balter (Georgetown Uni) ran the first Whitecoat group, the Indoor Air Pollution Advisory Group (IAPAG) in the USA.
    EGIL = Swedish acronym for 'Expert Group for lndoor Air'
    Lawyer, John Rupp of Covington & Burling (C&B) acted as cut-out and shield for the IAPAG group.]

  • March 11 -- Meeting in Stockholm of the Swedish group of ETS Consultants, Project EGIL, headed by Dr Tors MALMFORS. The following persons were present:

    Dr. Odd NILSSEN of Norway, Drs. Bo MIKAELSON, Daniel THORBURN and Arne WESTLlN of Sweden, Ms Annuka LEPPANEN of Finland. [They met with tobacco lobbyists/staff] Dr BALTER, USA (IAPAG), Mr RUPP (C&B), REIF and GAISCH (both PM/FTR).
    "The purpose of the meeting, was to brief the scientists on the current state of the science of ETS, to facilitate a discussion, and to plan for the future."


  • March 14 -- [GAISCH] and Mr John RUPP met at the Athaneum...

    ... with Drs. Francis ROE and Frank SULLIVAN as well as Mr (Peter) BROWN of Rothmans lnternational. The ETS Project is driven in the UK, as elsewhere in Europe, by PME. Mr BROWN assured us of the fullest support of Rothmans, with the exception of financial support.

    [Rothmans was one-third owned by Philip Morris, so they wouldn't want to pay twice.
    Pharmacologist Frank Sullivan was a new ARIA recruit from Guy's Hospital and the University of London.]

  • March 17 -- (Iancou) MARCOVITCH - contact with Dr (Claude) BIEVA (of Brussels) who informed that:

    the Ministry of Health has agreed to give its patronage to the Indoor Air Quality Conference to be organised in February 1989. (Later known as the Bieva Conference on ETS)
        He also reported on his meeting with Prof PERRY (London) who has agreed to participate in the Scientific Committee of this Conference.

    Claude Bieve was a toxicologist with the Free University of Brussels, Belgium - and a tobacco tout.
    [ Professor Roger Perry was the leader of the ARIA group and he became the main Asian Whitecoat recruiter the following year.]

  • March 21 -- IAM (MARCOVITCH) - Paris. Meeting with Prof Lucien ABENHEIM and Ms Helene BOURGOIS (AFCC/NMA).

    Prof. ABENHAIM informed that he cannot do the review work on ETS himself. lt would be carried out by his team at INSERM. He will send a precise budget as soon as possible. [INSERM is a well-known French Medical Research Organisation.]


  • March 23 -- HER [REIF] - Took part in a meeting with G WILLE (PM West Germany), Walter FINK (FTR Switzerland) and Prof ADLKOFER (VdC Germany) to discuss :

        (1) - Plans concerning the European network of scientific consultants on IAQ,
        (2) - New developments in ongoing research in Germany in the ETS / IAQ field, and
        (3) - A modus operandi for organising public ETS events in a coordinated fashion in Europe.
    (To avoid collision of dates, etc).

    [Franz Adlkofer of the Verband/VdC was the chief organiser of disinformation scientists in Germany, and he was working on an Austrian Whitecoats project for Philip Morris.] [9]

1988 June Since many of these new EGIL tobacco experts had no working knowledge of the relevant science, they were set to give papers, or to listen to other expert dissemblers, at the Perry ETS Conference in June1988.

Achievements

One of the main tasks of the group was to fight against the Magnussun Commission (a parliamentary commission reviewing the dangers of ETS).[10] They obviously don't know it, but the "learned society" the group were thinking of using was actually an offshoot of Philip Morris's Associates for Research in Indoor Air (ARIA) organization.

They did one study on airline air quality with the Swedish airline SAS, but achieved no results of any significance.[11] [12]


1990 A report to British American Tobacco marks the high-point of their activities in 1990:

From 1988, following a Covington & Burling-initiated search for Nordic scientists, the "EGIL" group has been available as the Nordic source of scientific advice and communications. The group consists of seven Swedish, one Norwegian, and two Finnish scientists. Members of the EGIL group have, for instance, acted as scientific witnesses at hearings with the Swedish Magnusson Tobacco Commission, presented the SAS IFAQ [in-flight airline air quality] study to SAS management, and participated in various international ETS events.
The group's major objectives for 1991 are to significantly increase the readiness to give public statements, and produce material for correcting scientific misinformation.[6]

From the start, the tobacco companies had problems with their EGIL recruits. Malmfors, the leader, was not one to take direction quietly. He was opposed to the industry's tendence to over-state their case, and he frequently objected to the quality of some of the scientific claims and air quality measures: gradually the group dissolved. By December 1990, the rump of the group was being used mainly for journalistic junkets and the occasional debate over smoking bans. But even here they failed:

"In Sweden, PM is working to move the NMA (National Manufacturers Association or cigarette manufacturers) to challenge the Magnusson commission [looking into implementing smoking bans] to a public ETS debate featuring EGIL scientists."

This didn't turn out for the best, The anti-smoking organizations in the Nordic areas were often a match for EGIL scientists and the tobacco industry in general. They had effective tactics for countering the use of Whitecoats:

"A new strategy of sending in a larger group of witnesses to hostile meetings was tested in Norway at a Nordic Council ETS meeting in 1990, with the result that the expected adverse end resolution was fully blocked. The anti's have noticed this strategy and even written articles in the media, which means that a rotation of scientists on an international basis is essential."

Decline

1991 By 1991, the EGIL group were running into trouble, and needed to be re-briefed and retrained. [13]

Then in the following year, the company's (the EEMA division with PM's division in Neuchatel) view of EGIL was far more pessimistic, complaining about the scientists: [14]

I have, however, not been able to fullfil. expected media work as the climate has been too hostile, which has demoralized the group to perform publicly. The group has instead functioned as a hearing body, and has participated in various international ETS events. The group has also been educated on the EPA issue by Thomas J. Borelli of Philip Morris Scientific Affairs. By fall of 1982, the group did not accept the task of carrying out public media debates.


1992 The EGIL group was moderately successful for a couple of years, but it collapsed in 1992.


Revitalization

1992 Oct In October 1992, despite incentives from Philip Morris, Malmfors and the EGIL group decided to disband. [15] However Malmfors, and Odd Nilsen carried on as consultants [16] and one new Whitecoat, Tage Voss, was left in place to carry the "independent scientist with integrity" banner [17] ... but they forgot to pay him, and he turned nasty. Clare C. Purcell, Manager of Legal Issues for Philip Morris Management Corporation, wrote warning others of the problem:

Dr. Voss was never in EGIL, although I understand that he attended some meetings where the EGIL scientists were, at (Helmut) Gaisch's request. The "consultant's program" has kept in communication with one or two of the EGIL group.

If the real problem is that Dr. [Tage] Voss did work for Stig (Carlson), and Stig did not budget for it and will not pay him, then, in my humble opinion, he should find a way to pay him. That way will not be the ETS consultant's program.

[Stig Carlson was the main corporate corruption lobbyist for Philip Morris in Europe. He was Manager then Director of Corporate Affairs, Philip Morris EEMA- based in Switzerland. Also worked with INFOTAB.
I wanted to warn you -- if Stig decides to pay Voss, you may want to look closely at how he does so. Voss has apparently played a little fast and loose with the Danish tax laws in the past, asking for payments to third parties outside the country, etc. He seems to be a creative kind of guy.

The job of revitalizing EGIL was given to the lawyers Covington & Burling and some Philip Morris staff in 1990 and again in 1991. The strategies proposed for the new use of the EGIL Whitecoats were:

  • "Get at least one active public spokesperson out of the EGIL group for each Nordic country."
  • "Use EGIL group to publicly respond to scientific misinformation." (All adverse science was labeled "misinformation" or "junk-science" in the tobacco industry.)
  • "Have scientists available for journalist briefings at FTR [Philip Morris's Lausanne headquarters], and in London at Imperial College "(which housed Professor Roger Perry of ARIA) "for planned journalist tours."
  • "C&B and PR agencies to hold planning sessions for EGIL publicity in the Nordic region."
  • "Set up a direct link between PR agencies and C&B for actively correcting scientific misinformation in significant media."
  • "By March, have PM approval for B-M (Burson-Marsteller) plan to arrange an industry-hosted Workplace Smoking symposium in Sweden by mid 1991. Use EGIL scientists as witnesses."
  • "Within [the] first half year, get EGIL group, and/or other scientists like Gray Robertson, or [the] REDAB Ltd expert group (both associated with Healthy Buildings International ), to carry out search for scientific facts about absenteeism, as well as cost-of-ventilation issues. Via PR agencies start article-writing drive."
  • "Arrange industry-hosted 'solutions' briefings, including EGIL and other witnesses, in Finland and Sweden within first half of 1990. In stage one, focus on unions, plus two to three of the largest industrial conglomerates like KoDo in Sweden, and Nokia in Finland."
  • "With C&B, work out EGIL group congress-attending scheme."
  • "Link this to a global science conference plan suggested to PMI/C&B."
  • "Schedule EGIL members for major international events, and pre-plan attendance of leading non-Nordic scientists for Nordic scientific conferences."
  • "Via C&B and the EGIL experts, prepare a defensive response to a Swedish Air Quality book, published by Svenska Fahkt and the Industry Federation. The book makes incorrect statements regarding air quality and tobacco."

However the relationship between the tobacco industry, some journalists, and the EGIL scientists was exposed by an investigative journalist in Finland in early 1992, and their cover was blown. [18]


The EGIL group collapsed in 1992.[7]


Eventually Philip Morris (PM) decided to recruit a team of medical doctors to largely replace the EGIL academics:

Via PM HQ we have been working to get the Danish Medical doctors [to form a] more outspoken, and pro active witness group, independent from the EGIL group. Dr Gaisch is supporting this effort together with C&B (Covington & Burling), London.
We also hope to get the Nordic Group activated further through a worldwide coordinated plan for the three year usage of international scientific witnesses. PM EEMA [ie. PM Scandinavia] is driving this issue with PMI [PM International].

Other Whitecoats organizations

These were largely phantom organisations that existed in reality only as membership lists of tobacco industry consultants. The aim was to create the appearance of a genuine scientific organisations comprising expert scientists in the field of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) - including the merged specialities of (1) the engineering aspects of air-conditioning, air-exchange rates, IAQ testing, etc. (2) the medical/hygiene debunking of adverse health claims and the (3) diminishing statistical claims of health damage, and the associated risk-assessments of any proven problems.

  • IAPAG - Indoor Air Pollution Advisory Group: based at the Georgetown University in Washington DC. In 1986 IAPAG had a core group of 10, and overall more than 20 scientists who could claim IAPAG membership if they needed to bolster their scientific credentials.[8]
  • CEHHT - Center for Health and Human Toxicology linked to IAPAG at Georgetown University. It probably did nothing more than provide a way to launder payments for services and some administration. It may also have laundered grants to IAPAG scientists.

Articles and resources

References

  1. United States Department of Justice DOJ--Plaintiff's Factual Memorandum Tab 4.PDF August 17, 2004. 49 pp. Bates No. 5001083663/5001083711
  2. Covington Burling, "European Consultancy Programme ARIA and EGIL: October 1988-October 1989", Bates Number 2500019903, October 24, 1989.
  3. "Status Report: Identification of Consulting Scientists on ETS in Scandanavia", Center For Environmental Health and Human Toxicology, Bates No. 2023542584, March 24, 1987
  4. Untitled Bates No. 2500017046, June 5, 1998.
  5. "Letter from C.J. Proctor to T. Malmfors regarding the list of comments on the Air Quality in Passenger Cabins report" Proctor CJ, Bates No. 400975610, April 4, 1989.
  6. "ETS Public Area", Bates Number 300547629, undated.
  7. Letter to Mr. Charles Lister (Covington and Burling London)" Malmfors, T; Bates No. 2028398180, October 28, 1992.
  8. Memo: National Academy of Sciences Hearing "Passive Smoking" Chilcote S; Bates No. TIDN0004490, January 30, 1986.
  9. ETS Strategy in the Philip Morris EEC Region, Bates No. 2028364722, August 9, 1988
  10. Japan Tobacco, "Dr. Walk's Suggestion" Japan Tobacc; Bates No. 2067227473, July 4, 2001.

Related SourceWatch resources

External resources

External articles

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