The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition

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The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC) is, according to Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber of PR Watch, “an organization that was covertly created by Philip Morris for the express purpose of generating scientific controversy regarding the link between second-hand smoke and cancer”. It was set up by Steven Milloy.[1]

Rampton and Stauber explain how TASSC was set up by PR company Burson Masteller and Philip Morris:

Due to the publicity associated with Burson-Marsteller's role in setting up the NSA [national smokers Alliance], Philip Morris executives felt that it was best to select some other PR firm to handle the launch of TASSC. They settled on APCO Associates, a subsidiary of the international advertising and PR firm of GCI/Grey Associates, which agreed to "organize coalition efforts to provide information with respect to the ETS issues to the media and to public officials" in exchange for a monthly retainer of $37,500 plus expenses.

The purpose of TASSC, as described in a memo from APCO's Tom Hockaday and Neal Cohen, was to "link the tobacco issue with other more 'politically correct' products"--in other words, to make the case that efforts to regulate tobacco were based on the same "junk science" as efforts to regulate food additives, automobile emissions and other industrial products that had not yet achieved tobacco's pariah status”.[2]


In its pilot year, PM budgeted $880,000 in funding for TASSC. Both Philip Morris and Lorillard Tobacco were members of TASSC.[36]

In 1998 its Advisory Board included:[37]

Other known sceptics on the advisory board at different times included: Hugh Ellsaesser, Patrick Michaels, and Alan Moghissi,[38] ACSH executive director Michael Fox,[39] and S. Fred Singer, and Michael Sanera.[40]

Corporate supporters included: 3M, Amoco, Chevron, Dow Chemical, Exxon, General Motors, Occidental Petroleum, Philip Morris, Proctor & Gamble and W.R. Grace[41].

Spurred on by the success of TASSC, Philip Morris look to set up a similar organisation in Europe. “In consultation with APCO and Burson-Marsteller, the company began planning to set up a second, European organization, tentatively named "Scientists for Sound Public Policy" (later renamed the European Science and Environment Forum). Like TASSC, the European organization would attempt to smuggle tobacco advocacy into a larger bundle of "sound science" issues, including the "ban on growth hormone for livestock; ban on [genetically-engineered bovine growth hormone] to improve milk production; pesticide restrictions; ban on indoor smoking; restrictions on use of chlorine; ban on certain pharmaceutical products; restrictions on the use of biotechnology[42].” ESEF would become a key part of the anti-green and health backlash in Europe.

Tellingly the groups have worked together. In December 1997, they issued a joint press release stating: “The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC) and the European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF) today announced that more than 500 physicians and scientists have signed an open letter to world leaders opposing the climate change treaty now being negotiated in Kyoto, Japan …TASSC and ESEF are not-for-profit organizations of scientists, former public policy officials and others interested in the use of sound science in public policy.”[43]

By 1997, the responsibility for TASSC moved from the APCO to the EOP Group, “a well-connected, Washington-based lobby firm whose clients have included the American Crop Protection Association (the chief trade association of the pesticide industry), the American Petroleum Institute, AT&T, the Business Roundtable, the Chlorine Chemistry Council, Dow Chemical Company, Edison Electric Institute (nuclear power), Fort Howard Corp. (a paper manufacturer), International Food Additives Council, Monsanto Co., National Mining Association, and the Nuclear Energy Institute. In March 1997, EOP lobbyist Steven Milloy, described in a TASSC news release as “a nationally known expert and author on environmental risk and regulatory policy issues”, became TASSC’s executive director[44].


  1. Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, How Big Tobacco Helped Create "the Junkman", Center for Media and Democracy website, accessed 31 July 2009
  1.; Americans for Non Smokers Rights (2003) Steven J. Milloy – The Junkman Exposed, December