Puppy in Scotland almost snarls Tobacco Trial Sched

October 26, 2004 1:20 pm by Gene Borio

A puppy all alone in the remote hinterlands of Northwest Scotland was the focus of a discussion today and yesterday concerning the testimony of ex-BATCo scientist Sharon (Boyse) Blackie.

Since trial witnesses have been rescheduled often, each side trying to be accommodating, things came to a crux yesterday with Ms. Blackie’s need to return to her farm in a remote section of Scotland on schedule to take care of her animals–and a small puppy.

As the court, Defense and DOJ juggled witnesses and schedules, it was decided to start Ms. Blackie’s testimony to see how far along it could get.

Ms. Blackie is in her very early forties, and is a self-possessed and extremely soft-spoken young woman–it’s weird how she can bring the rapid-fire Eubanks to a screeching halt with a breathy, “Let me finish, please.” Popular theory holds that people often look like their pets. Ms. Blackie has her long, flowing strawberry-blonde hair, lengthy bangs, smallish eyes, mouth and chin, and a straight nose. You might guess from this that her puppy is a Golden Retriever–and you’d be right.

When Judge Kessler heard she had a $95,000/year stipend from BATCo for 70 days work, she said between the Defense’s resources and her own, surely someone could be found, at a magnanimous fee, to trek out to Ms. Blackie’s area to care for the animals.

This morning, Mr. Bernick expressed concern Ms. Blackie would go home and they would not be able to get her back. Judge Kessler initially averred that Ms. Blackie is a United States witness, and would be called upon to testify whatever the circumstances, but Defense and DOJ agreed to try to see if her testimony could be taken in full today, before she leaves at 3:45 PM for a 22-hour journey home.

Ms. Blackie has been questioned about:

–Whether she’d spoken with Liggett personnel in any meaningful way in all her meetings and rounds as a Senior Scientific Advisor and as a Head of Smoking Affairs in BATCo’s Corporate Affairs Department. This line of questioning seemed to go nowhere.

–Industry attempts to “neutralize” the 1981 Hirayama report on Japanese nonsmoking women by, among other things, developing a study (finally published in 1995, under the authorship of P. N. Lee) that takes into account “misclassification,” ie, investigates whether many Japanese women say they are nonsmokers when they actually smoke, because of social disapproval of female smoking in Japan.

–The makeup and purpose of the “International ETS Management Committee”

–The 1989 McGill University Symposium in Canada, and the dissemination of articles and a monograph from that conference.

–Industry ETS Consultancy Programs, wherein the industry attempted to find and educate scientists in areas of the world where indoor air quality issues had not been studied.

Ms. Blackie maintains her concerns were that secondhand smoke science was being reported in the media with a bias to positive findings, and she and BATCo were simply trying to balance the record to provide a clearer overall picture. That picture would also include emphasizing, say, the deaths from cholera in third-world countries, and rates of lung cancer from cooking oils in China over any presumed hazards from indoor smoking.

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