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Tobacco Industry Records

Council for Tobacco Research Administrative History

Organizational history:

The Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TIRC) was established in 1953 by members of the tobacco industry to fund scientific research that the industry felt would address concerns raised about tobacco and its relationship to health. The TIRC's functions included both the funding of research and carrying out public relations activities relating to tobacco and health. The tobacco industry initially thought this would take a short time to accomplish. By 1958, it became evident that this was not a short-term endeavor, and that it was difficult to manage both scientific research and public relations in one organization. As a result the Tobacco Institute was formed to assume the public relations functions, and the Council for Tobacco Research (CTR) was formed and incorporated to provide funding for scientific research. The Center for Tobacco Research was closed in 1998 as part of the national litigation settlement between the states and the tobacco industry.

Functions and activities:

The CTR administered a grants program scientific research into tobacco use and health. Several types of grants were awarded:

  • Competitive scientific research grants: Grant applications were submitted to the CTR whose scientific staff managed the application, review, and oversight of grants. Competitive grants were reviewed by the Scientific Advisory Board which consisted of six to eight members. Members reviewed grants and wrote evaluations which were summarized by CTR staff. The SAB would then meet for 2-3 days to discuss the proposals, then vote by secret ballot on whether to approve a grant. Most grants were for a three year period. CTR staff compiled the ratings provided in that vote, and the recommended funding level. SAB members would be advised at their subsequent meeting what awards would be made. The SAB met twice a year to review grants, and once a year for a "think tank" meeting when speakers would be invited to present papers. At time potential new members for the SAB were invited to give papers at these meetings.
  • Staff special service projects : in the 1960s CTR scientific staff were allowed to award funding for small projects of $5000-$10000 to get special research or work done. This could range from some additional funding to complete a research project or a small research project of interest to the CTR. About 85 total projects of this type were awarded into the late 1970s.
  • Special projects: After the 1964 Surgeon General's report, the tobacco industry determined that more research was needed in particular areas, so they established the CTR Special Projects. These were funded through CTR, but were not reviewed by the SAB. The projects were presented to the CTR Director, and with his agreement the projects would be funded. About 100 such projects were funded.

Organizational structure:

Board of Directors: The CTR was made up in part of representatives from member companies, and was headed by a chairman. The chairmanship was held from the 1960s by a succession of retired tobacco industry executives. The Board was responsible for ensuring necessary funds were available to maintain CTR; handled administrative matters (hiring CTR staff, drafting by-laws, preparing retirement plans, establishing CTR staff salaries).

President: the president was responsible for the overall operation of the CTR. His responsibilities included the Literature Retrieval Division and the CTR scientific grants program.

Scientific director: the CTR's scientific research grant program was administered by a scientific director. Five or six scientific staff handled the scientific research program, assisted by a comparable number of clerical staff. Members of Industry Technical Committee (ITC) and representatives of Hill and Knowlton (the NYC Public relations firm that initially assisted the industry in setting up the TIRC) selected and hired SAB initially. Thereafter, SAB appointed new board members by obtaining suggestions from current SAB. Appointment required approval of CTR's chairman.

Scientific staff: reported directly to the scientific director, and managed the day-to-day operation of the grants and special projects. Staff organized and managed the grants review process, then monitored the grants underway.

Scientific Advisory Board (SAB): composed of distinguished scientists in charge of research activities. Its role was to fund research that would identify and define factor(s) involved in causing certain diseases reported to be associated with smoking.

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