NEW YORK, OCT. 24 -- A scientist who was dismissed from an Environmental Protection Agency review panel on smoking under pressure from the tobacco industry has been reinstated, the EPA announced today.
"I'm extremely pleased at the results," said the scientist, David Burns of the University of California at San Diego.
The Associated Press reported last week that Burns had been dismissed from a panel chosen to review the scientific accuracy of two forthcoming EPA reports on the health effects of secondhand cigarette smoke.
The tobacco industry and Rep. Thomas J. Bliley Jr. (R-Va.), a tobacco industry ally, had lobbied to remove Burns from the committee.
Mark Pertschuk, executive director of Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights in Berkeley, Calif., said the EPA's decision to reinstate Burns "was the only ethical thing at this point that they could do. To have given in to the tobacco industry would have been a horrible statement about the impartiality of the peer review process."
Burns has worked on the surgeon general's reports on smoking since the 1970s and edited the 1986 report on passive smoking.
On Aug. 10, the Tobacco Institute, an industry group, wrote EPA Administrator William K. Reilly protesting Burns's selection. "Frankly, we are mystified how an individual with Dr. Burns's long and intense involvement with the antismoking movement can be expected to contribute to a reasonable, objective examination" of the EPA reports, the letter said.
In a Sept. 18 letter, Bliley urged that the panel "consist of qualified individuals who have not already prejudged this issue in any manner."
EPA officials said they understood that to be an objection to the appointment of Burns.