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Tobacco Industry Paid Scientists

August 4, 1998 GMT

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ The tobacco industry paid 13 scientists more than $156,000 for writing letters and manuscripts to discredit studies linking secondhand smoke to lung cancer, including a 1993 Environmental Protection Agency report, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Tuesday.

``It’s a systematic effort to pollute the scientific literature. It’s not a legitimate scientific debate,″ said Dr. Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of the 1996 book ``The Cigarette Papers.″

In some cases, tobacco industry lawyers edited the letters before they were sent to publications.

``What we have is massive evidence of a propaganda machine being run by lawyers, directed by lawyers, most of them external to the industry,″ said Jim Repace, a former senior policy analyst for the EPA.

The Tobacco Institute paid $10,000 to Nathan Mantel, a biostatistician at American University in Washington, for a letter printed in a 1993 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Pioneer Press said.

The letter criticized a study linking secondhand smoke to cancers in nonsmokers that JAMA published in 1992. A small note at the bottom said, ``support for the analyses contained in this letter came from the Tobacco Institute. The views expressed are Mr. Mantel’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Tobacco Institute or the American University.″

Editors of some of the publications targeted by the tobacco industry said that while some of the authors disclosed ties to the tobacco industry, the editors were unaware those authors were paid thousands of dollars to write the letters.

Officials of the Tobacco Institute and the two law firms that handled the letter-writing project, Covington and Burling of Washington and Shook, Hardy & Bacon of Kansas City, declined comment or didn’t return calls.

The documents are among the millions of pages of tobacco industry material made public as a result of Minnesota’s recent lawsuit against cigarette makers. The suit was settled in May when the industry agreed to pay $6.6 billion to the state and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.