Academy of Ideas

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The Academy of Ideas (formerly known by its trading name the Institute of Ideas) is a UK think-tank that forms part of a pro-corporate libertarian network.1


People affiliated with the organisation have consistently taken a pro-smoking stance:

  • In January 2017, Rob Lyons (Science and Technology Director in 2019)2 claimed, in an article for Spiked magazine, that smokers continued to smoke because they enjoyed it, not because of addiction, and that tobacco control measures had been ineffective. He went on to describe the benefits of IQOS, Philip Morris’ heated tobacco product, and argued that this type of product should be taxed at a lower rate, and restrictions on advertising should be lifted.3 Lyons was listed as Campaigns Manager for Action on Consumer Choice a tobacco industry front group, in operation at the time of the magazine article, but which by 2019 no longer appeared to be in operation.(Its last social media posts appeared to have been in 2017).45
  • In 2019, Lyons wrote a column arguing against the forthcoming European Union (EU) ban on menthol cigarettes.6
  • In January 2015 David Bowden, Associate Fellow, wrote a blog piece criticising the Conservative Government for allowing MPs a free vote on the introduction of plain packaging. He claimed that “arguments in favour of plain packs have consistently proven to be built on flimsy evidence and dodgy assertions” and that the law would “likely make little real difference to people taking up smoking”.7
  • In December 2011, Bowden attacked a proposed smoking ban in cars, arguing that “Nothing seems more poisonous to a free society than that”.8 He told the BBC “We either give individuals the choice to make their own moral responsibility to have bad habits which the government may not approve of, or we don’t at all,” 9
  • In July 2011, Patrick Hayes, spoke at a meeting in Stony Stratford against a proposed ban on smoking in public places, alongside Euro-Sceptic MEPs Roger Helmer and Nigel Farage and other libertarian / right wing activists. The protest was organised by libertarian pro-smoking blogger Martin Cullip.101112

Key People

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  1. Institute of Ideas, About Us, Website, Accessed July 2019
  2. Rob Lyons, Academy of Ideas website, undated, accessed April 2020
  3. R. Lyons, Smokers enjoy cigarettes – deal with it, Spiked, 3 January 2017, accessed July 2019
  4. Action on Consumer Choice Facebook page, accessed April 2020
  5. Consumer Choice, Twitter account, accessed April 2020
  6. R. Lyons, The EU’s mental ban on menthols, Spiked, 20 May 2019, accessed March 2020
  7. Academy of Ideas, Plain packs: political principle goes up in smoke, Blog piece, 22 January 2015, accessed July 2019
  8. D. Bowden, Banning smoking in cars is poisonous to a free society, The Independent, 16 November 2011, accessed April 2020
  9. Campaign is launched to stop smoking in carsBBC News, 7 December 2011, accessed April 2020
  10. Patrick Hayes, LinkedIn profile, accessed April 2020
  11. Stony Stratford Protest, Daily Motion, 16 July 2011, accessed February 2011
  12. M. Cullip, An Outbreak of People Power in Stony Stradford, Dick Puddlecote blog, 17 July 2011, accessed April 2020