The findings are reported in a study and commentary posted online at the pre-publication website of Environmental Health Perspectives, the journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The information will be published in a future issue of the journal.
Based on an analysis of internal tobacco company documents, the article outlines evidence that the tobacco industry hired ex-agency scientists to intervene in federal Environmental Protection Agency decision-making, hired a consultant to influence World Health Organization pesticide regulatory deliberations without revealing his industry ties, and staged a useless test aimed at convincing regulators that no further restrictions were needed to control an especially deadly pesticide, among other actions.
The authors point to the need for broader reform of the regulatory process to prevent abuses such as these in the future.
"This shows that the tobacco industry's influence on our nation's health extends far beyond policies directly concerned with smoking or cigarettes," said Ruth Malone, RN, PhD, associate professor in the UCSF School of Nursing and senior author on the study.
First author Patricia McDaniel, PhD, postdoctoral fellow at the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, added, "It's one thing for the industry to participate in the public policy process by providing information or arguments, but it's another to hire people to secretly influence the policy process and to manipulate the science guiding policymakers."
The researchers present three case studies based on examining approximately 2,000 formerly secret internal tobacco company documents as well as 3,885 EPA documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.