Big Tobacco's Covert Witness Program

In a February 1989 speech to the Executive Committee of the now-defunct Tobacco Institute, the group's Senior Vice President, Charles Powers, sought to save the industry's covert "Scientific Witness" program from impending budget cuts. The program, he said, featured experts "who are our front line of defense in tax, public smoking and advertising hearings every day." Powers complained that "scientists will not buck for love" the scientific consensus on the link between environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and health impacts. "It takes money," he said. "The Institute can't do it and be taken seriously. We need people who have earned reputations as serious researchers...who can review and critique articles, publish and act as peer reviewers," he said. Powers estimated that it cost an average of $40,000 and took six weeks to identify and train a single expert.