Advancement of Sound Science Center

Advancement of Sound Science Center

The Advancement of Sound Science Center (TASSC), formerly the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, is an industry-funded lobby group which promotes the idea that environmental science on issues including smoking, pesticides and global warming is "junk science", which should be replaced by "sound science". It is operated by Steven Milloy from his home in Potomac, Maryland.


TASSC was created in 1993 by the APCO Worldwide public relations firm, and was funded by tobacco company Philip Morris (now Altria). TASSC was listed in a confidential Philip Morris memo under "PM Tools to Affect Legislative Decisions". [ [ Philip Morris Corporate Affairs Budget Presentation, 1994] , from the [ Legacy Tobacco Documents Library] . Accessed 16 July 2007.] . The leading public advocate of TASSC is Steven Milloy, whose webpage [] was, until 2006, affiliated with the Cato Institute.

Initially, the primary focus of TASSC was an attempt to discredit research on Environmental Tobacco Smoke as a long-term cause of increased cancer and heart problem rates in the community -- especially among office workers and children living with smoking parents [] . It subsequently advanced industry-friendly positions on a wide range of topics, including global warming, smoking, phthalates, and pesticides. Later still, they extended the role of TASSC to Europe using Dr George Carlo. TASSC used the label of 'junk science' to criticise work that was unfavorable to the interests of its backers.

TASSC followed a series of efforts along similar lines aimed at discrediting research on the links between tobacco smoke and lung cancer and other health hazards. TASSC was only one of many such groups. [] [] [] [] [] [] [] []

TASSC's purpose was to hire scientists to make an appearance of controversy about health effects of smoking. Operation Whitecoats was actually a continuation of practices first started in 1954, after tobacco companies first learned that there were serious health consequences from smoking, but concealed the evidence and funded industry-friendly researchers to dispute it. []

Following the revelation of links between TASSC, Milloy and the tobacco industry, largely as a result of lawsuits brought against the industry by US state governments, Milloy left the Cato Institute. Milloy maintains TASSC and a similar organisation, Citizens for the Integrity of Science based at his home in Maryland. The website for CFIS, formerly at is no longer active.


According to Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber in their article [ How Big Tobacco Helped Create "the Junkman"] , one of the forerunners of TASSC at Philip Morris was a 1988 "Proposal for the Whitecoat Project," named after the white laboratory coats that scientists sometimes wear. The project had four goals: "Resist and roll back smoking restrictions. Restore smoker confidence. Reverse scientific and popular misconception that ETS is harmful. Restore social acceptability of smoking."

To achieve these goals, the plan was to first "generate a body of scientific and technical knowledge" through research "undertaken by whitecoats, contract laboratories and commercial organizations"; then "disseminate and exploit such knowledge through specific communication programs." Covington & Burling, PM's law firm, would function as the executive arm of the Whitecoat Project, acting as a "legal buffer . . . the interface with the operating units (whitecoats, laboratories, etc.)."

The effort to create a scientific defense for secondhand smoke was only one component in the tobacco industry's public relations campaign. To defeat cigarette excise taxes, a Philip Morris strategy document outlined plans for "Co-op efforts with third party tax organizations"—libertarian anti-taxation think tanks, such as Americans for Tax Reform, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Citizens for Tax Justice and the Tax Foundation. Other third party allies included the National Journalism Center, the Heartland Institute, the Claremont Institute, and National Empowerment Television, a conservative TV network.

In one memo to Philip Morris CEO Michael A. Miles, vice president Craig L. Fuller noted that he was "working with many third party allies to develop position papers, op-eds and letters to the editor detailing how tobacco is already one of the most heavily regulated products in the marketplace, and derailing arguments against proposed bans on tobacco advertising."

cience advisors and board members

Science advisors to TASSC included Fred Singer, Fred Seitz, Bruce Ames, Michael Fumento, Michael Gough of the Cato Institute and Patrick Michaels. Garrey Carruthers, former governor of New Mexico, served as chairman of TASSC. [ [ Factsheet] ] [ "Annual Report - 1997"] , Steven Milloy, January 7th, 1998. Document accessed at [ Legacy Tobacco Documents Library] on July 7, 2007.] [ [ About TASSC] ,, 1998. Archived website viewed at on July 7th, 2007.]

The most visible public activity of TASSC was its support for the [ Junk Science] website run by Steven Milloy, who describes himself as the "Junkman". According to 1997 annual report, TASSC "sponsor [ed] the Junk Science Home Page." Milloy denounces research on environmental issues such as climate change, pollution and public health as junk science if it produced results suggesting a need for public intervention or regulation. He promoted the idea of sound science, interpreted in practice to mean science favorable to corporate interests.

Adverse publicity about Milloy's links to Phillip Morris were followed by his departure from the Cato Institute, where he had been an adjunct fellow, at the end of 2005, and the removal of links to from the Cato website. However, Milloy remains influential as the science columnist for Fox News and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

'Sound Science' Award

In 1995, TASSC awarded New York Times science reporter Gina Kolata its "Sound Science in Journalism Award." Announcing the award, TASSC Chairman Garrey Carruthers praised Kolata "who responsibly detailed in a series of stories how science has been distorted and manipulated to fuel litigation concerning silicone breast implants." []

Explaining their award to Gina Kolata, TASSC wrote that she "wrote several articles on how science has been distorted and manipulated to advance implant-related litigation. Why it was chosen: Everyone seemed to be afraid to talk about it — the FDA has treated the issue like a hot potato and respected scientific researchers and medical professionals were criticized and harassed when they spoke out. It would have been an easy issue to avoid, but Kolata courageously took it on. Her articles were well-balanced and presented the strong scientific case — and why it had been distorted in the first place — for silicone breast implants." []

It is not clear whether TASSC made similar awards in later years, but the American Council on Science and Health now offers a Sound Science Award. The winner in 2005 was Michael Crichton.

Citizens for the Integrity of Science

The internet site, Citizens for the Integrity of Science, is registered to Steven Milloy's home address in Potomac, MD, with Milloy listed as the administrative contact.

In a May 11, 1999 Freedom of Information Act filed by Citizens for the Integrity of Science posted on the Junkscience web page, Steve Milloy listed himself and Michael Gough of the Competitive Enterprise Institute as directors of Citizens for the Integrity of Science, with TASSC's old 1155 Connecticut address and contact info, which is also Milloy's current business address. []


TASSC's funders included:
* 3M
* Amoco
* Chevron
* Dow Chemical
* Exxon
* General Motors
* Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
* Lorillard Tobacco
* Louisiana Chemical Association
* National Pest Control Association
* Occidental Petroleum
* Philip Morris
* Procter & Gamble
* Santa Fe Pacific Gold
* W.R. Grace


External links

* [ TASSC website from 1998] (now defunct, but archived at
* [ The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition] (on which much of this article is based)
* [ "Tobacco Strategy"] -(internal company memorandum), Philip Morris, March 1994.
* [ "Defending Hot Air: TASSC Takes On Global Warming"] - PR Watch, Vol 4 #3, 3rd quarter 1997.
* [ "Thinking Globally, Acting Vocally: The International Conspiracy to Overheat the Earth "] by Bob Burton and Sheldon Rampton - PR Watch, Vol 4 #4, 4th quarter 1997.
* [ "ACSH vs. Ashes: Tobacco's Worst Enemy, or a Smoke Screen?"] - PR Watch, Vol 5 #4, 4th quarter 1998.
* [ Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, "How Big Tobacco Helped Create 'the Junkman'"] - PR Watch, Vol 7 #3, 3rd quarter 2000.
* [] (pdf)
* [] (pdf)
* [ "The Fraud of 'Sound Science'"] , by Chris Mooney, the gadflyer v1.1
* [ Non-Profit Organizations with Ties to Industry] (Center for Science in the Public Interest page)

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