Tobacco firm used scientist to subvert critics in Asia

AN EDINBURGH University study released yesterday has revealed the tactics used by tobacco companies to "infiltrate" scientific institutes and undermine anti-smoking policies in Asia.

On the website of the Public Library of Science Medicine journal, researcher Jeff Colin at Edinburgh University, along with Ross MacKenzie, another researcher from Sydney University, has alleged that Philip Morris, an American tobacco firm, "planted" a scientist, Roger Walk, to lecture, and organise conferences at the Chulabhorn Institute in Bangkok to play down the effects of passive smoking.

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The public health researchers produced their findings by analysing internal industry documents which were made public following legal proceedings in the United States. The report was partly funded by the National Cancer Institute in the US.

Mr MacKenzie said: "They (the tobacco companies] have shown they are willing to take advantage of economic situations and lax legislation in many south-east Asian countries to aggressively market their products."

However, Marija Sepic, a spokeswoman for Philip Morris International, dismissed the documents as outdated and said the company never hid its affiliation with Mr Walk.