Gori, Gio Batta, Ph.D.(Tobacco Consultant, formerly w/ NCI, Industry Expert) 1993 Started career at NCI and then went to work for the industry. Believed a safer cigarette could be made, and that there were safe threshold levels for exposure to the chemicals in cigarette smoke.
Gio Batta Gori was born in 1931 in Italy. He received an undergraduate degree from the University of Rome, then spent a year at the University of Padua before obtaining a doctorate in biological sciences from the University of Camerino. Gori then worked for the Instituto Superiore Di Sanita as a microbiologist, studying antibiotics, the biology of brine material and viruses.
In the early 1960s, he moved to Washington and worked for a number of laboratories before joining the National Cancer Institute in 1968. Over the next decade, he held such positions as Deputy Director of the Division of Cancer Causes and Prevention, Director of the Diet, Nutrition and Cancer Program, Acting Associate Director of the Carcinogenesis Program, and Director of the Smoking and Health Program.
Gori was best known for his involvement in the Tobacco Working Group, a collaborative effort between industry and governmental scientists, and became known as a supporter of the view that a safer cigarette was possible. Many, however, came to believe that Gori was more interested in advancing his own career than in creating a safer cigarette. According to Devra Davis, “It’s never been clear to me how Gori ended up at the helm of a major U. S. government program to design a safer cigarette. … What Gori lacked in scientific pedigrees at the time, he more than made up for in schmoozing ability. … many of his colleagues found him to be an overdressed bureaucrat with an exaggerated sense of his own importance. He also developed unusually close relationships with the industry and contractors working under his supervision. In a short period of time, Gori’s name appeared as coauthor of some twenty articles. Before that he had not written a single publication on his own.” Richard Kluger was just as scathing, describing Gori as a “journeyman microbiologist” whose “medical training had been at a backwater school, he had no scholarly publications to speak of, and he brought no depth of knowledge on the nuances of cancer.”
Over time, Gori’s apparent pro-industry bias began to alienate many in public health. Davis reports that some scientists came to believe that “the term ‘safe cigarette’ was an oxymoron” and to feel a “disdain for Gori and the whole effort to produce a safe cigarette.” Fellow NCI scientist Marvin Schneiderman complained, “It’s not up to us to find a product they can market. Are we the research arm of the tobacco industry?”
Even the industry recognized Gori’s views as extreme. A draft proposal from Brown & Williamson marketing consultants Lisher and Company noted that the “parameters of a ‘safe’ cigarette have been defined by Dr. Gori of the Federal Government, although his definition of ‘safe’ is believed to be as yet largely unrecognized by the medical community at large.”
Yet even while Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Joseph Califano was declaring the cigarette to be “Public Health Enemy #1,” Gori was continuing to make claims about the possibility of a safer cigarette that seemed exaggerated or worse. Matters came to a head in 1978 when Gori published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association making the case for safer cigarettes.
Increasing pressure was put on NCI to stop sending mixed messages. In the summer of 1978, it announced that Gori would be taking a leave of absence to pursue a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins. At the same time, the Tobacco Working Group was phased out.
After earning his master’s degree, Gori formally resigned from the NCI in 1980 to become Vice President of the Franklin Institute Policy Analysis Center (FIPAC), a consulting firm that received significant funding from the tobacco industry. Over the next two decade, FIPAC received funding from both Brown & Williamson and the Tobacco Institute for Gori to do research and publish works on a wide variety of tobacco-related topics, including safer cigarettes, secondhand smoke, lung cancer causation and addiction. He also wrote many pieces for the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.
Allan M. Brandt, The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall and Deadly Persistence of the Product that Defined America (New York: Basic Books, 2007).
Devra Davis, The Secret History of the War on Cancer (New York: Basic Books, 2007).
Trial testimony of GIO BATTA GORI, M.D., May 1, 2003, SCOTT v. AMERICAN TOBACCO CO. (http://tobaccodocuments.org/datta/GORIG050103.html).
Richard Kluger, Ashes to Ashes: America’s Hundred-Year Cigarette War and the Unabashed Triumph of Philip Morris (New York: Vintage Books, 1996).
Stanton A. Glantz, John Slade, Lisa A. Bero, Peter Hanauer and Deborah E. Barnes, The Cigarette Papers (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998).
For More Biographical Information:
American Men & Women of Science: A Biographical Directory of Today’s Leaders in Physical, Biological, and Related Sciences (various editions).
Who’s Who in Government (Second edition, 1975-1976) (Chicago: Marquis Who’s Who, 1975).
G. B. Gori and C. J. Lynch, “Toward Less Hazardous Cigarettes: Current Advances,” JAMA, Vol. 240, No. 12, September 15, 1978.
Gio Gori and John Luik, Passive Smoke: The EPA’s Betrayal of Science and Policy (Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, 1999).
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Gori, Gio Batta