Christopher Snowdon

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Christopher Snowdon is a writer and journalist who holds a history degree. When Snowdon first launched his blog Velvet Glove, Iron Fist in 2008, he referred to himself as “an independent researcher and author” with “no affiliation or financial ties with the tobacco industry or any anti-smoking group”1 This statement was removed from his website in about 2010.2

Writing in May 2012, Snowdon argued that the reason that this disclaimer had disappeared was it:

“was probably too defensive and unnecessary even then, but after I wrote The Spirit Level Delusion, The Art of Suppression and numerous articles and papers about alcohol, happiness economics, food, drugs and the rest, it looked downright weird. And so, although it was still true, I replaced it with a more conventional and extensive biography. Absence of denial is not evidence of guilt.”3

Director of the IEA’s “Lifestyle Economics” Unit

In 2012, Snowdon joined the tobacco funded Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) as a Research Fellow.4 The IEA accepts funding from tobacco companies. A year after joining the think tank, Snowdon became Director of the IEA’s new “Lifestyle Economics” unit. 5 6
Also see:

Undermining the WHO

In October 2018, Snowdon hosted a meeting of organisations with various tobacco industry links following the rejection of observer status of the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO) at the WHO’s eighth Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (COP8). See below for details.

Against Plain Packaging

In February 2012, shortly before the UK Department of Health launched its public consultation on plain packaging of tobacco products, the Adam Smith Institute published a report by Snowdon which opposed plain packaging. Echoing many of the Industry Arguments Against Plain Packaging, the report argued:

  • “there is no solid evidence of its efficacy or unintended consequences”
  • “the public does not believe that plain packaging will stop people smoking”
  • “it is hard to think of a policy that could delight counterfeiters more than standardising the design, shape and colour of cigarette packs”
  • “plain packaging is an infringement of intellectual property rights and a violation of international free trade agreements”
  • “it limits information and restricts choice”.7

The title of the report portrayed critics of the tobacco industry as radicals: Plain Packaging: Commercial expression, anti-smoking extremism and the risks of hyper-regulation.
Interviewed about his report on the Hands Off Our Packs website, Snowdon said:

It is extraordinary that a government which claims to be against excessive regulation should be contemplating a law which even the provisional wing of the anti-smoking lobby considered unthinkable until very recently. It seems that fanaticism has become institutionalised and a handful of extremists have become the de facto policy makers in matters related to tobacco.8

Image 1: Institute of Economic Affair’s Christopher Snowdon reacts to the plain packaging announcement on 21 January 2015

In January 2015, the UK Government announced that it would vote on draft regulations for plain packaging before the May 2015 General Election. Snowdon appeared in the media the next day in opposition of the policy. He appeared on Five Live Breakfast and the Today programme on Radio 4.9 He also published a self-penned article in The Telegraph10, and his opinion statement (see image) published on the IEA’s website on the evening of the vote was cited in numerous press articles.111213 In his statement, Snowdon advertised that he was available for media comment.

IEA’s Tobacco Industry Funding Not Declared

In The Telegraph, Snowdon repeated the industry arguments that plain packaging in Australia has failed to work and that illicit trade has increased dramatically: “there has been a sharp increase in contraband tobacco in Australia since plain packaging was introduced.”10 Nowhere in the article does is disclose that Christopher Snowdon worked for the IEA or that the IEA accepts tobacco industry funds, neither does the IEA state this anywhere on its website.14 Independent evidence does not support Snowdon’s statement of an increase in illicit trade in Australia. See Countering Industry Arguments Against Plain Packaging: It will Lead to Increased Smuggling.

Food and Obesity

IEA Funding Source is “Irrelevant”

In August 2014, the IEA released a report on obesity written by Snowdon, entitled The Fat Lie. 15 In a Channel 4 News interview about the report, Snowdon was pressed about the IEA’s funding and whether the think-tank received food industry money, however Snowdon said he did not know. He then added that it was “irrelevant” whether the IEA was taking food industry money or not.16

Report Dismissed as “Laughable Nonsense”

The obesity report was dismissed as “laughable nonsense which flies in the face of 50 years of science,” by nutrition expert, Dr Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, as well “completely wrong” by Professor Mike Lean, Chair of Human Nutrition at the University of Glasgow.16

Against the Soft Drinks Industry Levy

Snowdon is a prominent opponent of the UK Soft Drink Industry Levy (SDIL), a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages set to take effect in the UK in April 2018. The revenues from the levy are earmarked for school breakfast clubs and school sports activities to help fight childhood obesity.17

“People Against the Sugar Tax”

Snowdon is a former Executive Board member of the so-called “grassroots campaign” against the SDIL, People Against Sugar Tax alongside amongst others Alex Deane, and Annunziata Rees-Mogg, the sister of Conservative politician, Jacob Rees-Mogg. 18 19

The IEA and Sugar

In March 2016, the Sun Online portrayed Snowdon, who has a history degree, as an “expert” on sugar.20
Snowdon has also opposed the levy in briefing papers and reports for the Institute of Economic Affairs, and has described the policy as an “eye-catching but ill-considered gimmick”.212223
The IEA labelled the UK as “the biggest nanny state in the EU” due to the SDIL.20

IEA Refuses To Disclose Whether it Receives Food and Drink Money

The IEA refuses to disclose whether it receives funding from the food and soft drinks industry.24

IEA’s Past Funding from the Food and Drinks Industry

A letter to the IEA’s supporters suggests that it has received donations from a range of food and soft drinks companies such as Coca-Cola, Tesco, Unilever, and Tate & Lyle, amongst others, in the past.25

Spectator Columns on Sugar

Snowdon has also written numerous opinion pieces opposing a sugar tax for Spectator Health 262728

Velvet Glove Articles on Sugar

Snowdon has also written on the sugar tax on his blog, Velvet Glove Velvet Glove, Iron Fist. Some examples include:

  • “The case against the Case Against Sugar” 29
  • “A world of pure imagination” 30
  • “Glantz’s sugar conspiracy”31
  • “A sugar tax is just the start” 32

Denigrates Public Health Scientists

Like other pro-smoking bloggers, such as Simon Clark and Martin Cullip, Snowdon has publically criticised leading tobacco control scientists by referring to them as “zealots”33 and “extremists”.34
Snowdon has attempted to undermine the credibility of leading tobacco control scientists:

  • Professor Simon Chapman

Simon Chapman is a Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney, who has published over 480 articles in peer reviewed journals.35 Snowdon describes him as a “scrotum-faced head-banger” who “freely promotes junk science”; a “gadfly”, who “does not even seem to display much more scientific expertise on tobacco, the subject he has been working on for decades … He also has an unfortunate habit of listening to the voices in his head and then repeating their words out loud (or on Twitter).”33

  • Professor Linda Bauld

Linda Bauld is a Professor of Socio-Management at the University of Stirling, who has published 40 peer-reviewed articles as well as six books. Snowdon writes: “One of the bits of voodoo science upon which the anti-smoking extremists are pinning their hopes vis a vis plain packaging came from the pen of Linda Bauld. You may recall Bauld as the fantasist who insists that the smoking ban did no harm to England’s pubs.”36

  • Professor Stan Glantz

Professor Stan Glantz has been a leading anti-smoking academic since the late seventies and is currently a Professor at the Department of Medicine; and the Director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California.37
Snowdon has stated that Glantz is a “raving lunatic”, arguing that “I have always feared for Stanton Glantz’s mental health, but it’s only since he started blogging that I’ve realised that the guy is genuinely certifiable.38 He also labels Glantz a “Gobshite” who is “deranged” and a “clueless clown”.3940

  • Professor Anna Gilmore

Another scientist who Snowdon has criticised is Professor Anna Gilmore, Director of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, who has published some 70 articles in peer reviewed journals. He says she is a “professor of no fixed ability”, who produces “fairy-tale science” and “Junk science”. “Or is this just more proof of Anna Gilmore’s estrangement from reality? It’s almost as if she’s being sponsored to go around getting things wrong on as many different subjects as she can.”4142

Attacks Public Health Activists

Snowdon has called the Chief Executive of the Charity Action for Smoking and Health, Deborah Arnott, a “chronically deluded neo-prohibitionist.”43

Attendance at COP8

In 2018, the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO) was denied observer status at the WHO’s eighth Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (COP8). INNCO members then participated in a side meeting hosted by Snowdon.44 Other attendees included Martin Cullip; Heneage Mitchell of, a group that claims to represent consumers of nicotine products, but receives funding from Philip Morris International (PMI) and Simon Clark the Director of the tobacco industry front group Forest.

  • For more details see the page on INNCO.

Links to Other Pro-Smoking Organisations / Attending Tobacco Industry Events

Snowdon has supported pro-smoking organisations, some of whom receive tobacco industry funding, by writing for:

He is also affiliated with other pro-smoking and libertarian organisations and think tanks too. He is an ‘Adjunct Scholar’ at the Democracy Institute.49 On 27 February 2012, Snowdon spoke at the launch of Forest‘s tobacco industry funded Hands Off Our Packs campaign against the plain packaging of tobacco products.50

Snowdon has been a regular speaker at the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum, an annual tobacco industry event previously known as the Global Tobacco Networking Forum.5152 For more information, see the following pages:

Snowdon was invited to speak at an event organised by The Free Society and Privacy International in June 2011, entitled “Civil Liberties Up in Smoke – What are smokers’ rights in a free society?” Other speakers included:


He is the author of several books which focus on “pleasure, prohibition and dodgy statistics”:4

  • Velvet Glove Iron Fist: A History of Anti-Smoking (Little Dice, 2009);
  • The Spirit Level Delusion: Fact-checking the Left’s new theory of everything; and
  • The Art of Suppression: Pleasure, Panic and Prohibition since 1800 (published October 2011).2
  • Selfishness, Greed and Capitalism: Debunking myths about the Free Market. (Institute of Economic Affairs, 2015)
  • Killjoys: A Critique of Paternalism, (Institute of Economic Affairs, 2017)54
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  1. Archive of, 10 March 2008, accessed March 2012
  2. abC. Snowdon, About the Author, Velvetgloveironfist, accessed April 2012
  3. C. Snowdon, Odd Hominems,, 8 May 2012
  4. abIEA Website, People, accessed February 2012
  5. IEA, Lifestyle Economics, undated, accessed August 2016
  6. IEA, Lifestyle Economics -
Official Launch Event, 1 May 2013, accessed August 2016
  7. C. Snowdon, Plain packaging: Commercial expression, anti-smoking extremism and the risks of hyper-regulation, Adam Smith Institute, 20 February 2012
  8. Hands Off Our Packs, Plain packaging “will bring no benefits” says think tank, 20 February 2012
  9. Today Programme, Christopher Snowdon interview: start at 01:22:05, BBC Radio 4, 22 January 2015, accessed February 2015
  10. abC. Snowdon, All the plain packaging lobby really wants is to hear tobacco companies squeal, The Telegraph, 22 January 2015, accessed August 2016
  11. M. Price, Enforcing of standardised tobacco packaging takes encouraging step, Manchester Evening News, 22 January 2015, accessed February 2015
  12. Cigarettes likely to be sold in plain packs from May 2016, Standard Reporter, 22 January 2015, accessed March 2015
  13. J. Chapman, Plain cigarette packet law to be passed BEFORE the election to stop new generation of smokers, Daily Mail, 21 January 2015, accessed March 2015
  14. Transparify, How transparent are think tanks about who funds them 2016? A survey of 200 think tanks in 47 countries worldwide, Tbilisi, Georgia, 29 June 2016, accessed August 2016
  15. Institute of Economic Affairs, Inactivity, not calorie consumption, behind rising obesity in the UK, 18 August 2014, accessed September 2014
  16. abT. Clarke, Obesity crisis: sorting the ‘fat’ from the fiction, Channel 4 News, 18 August 2014, accessed September 2014
  17. S. Barber, Briefing Paper Number 7876: The Soft Drinks Industry Levy, House of Commons Library, 12 April 2017, accessed July 2017
  18. C. Snowdon, People Against Sugar Tax, 25 August 2015, accessed July 2017
  19. WayBackMachine, People Against the Sugar Tax Website, accessed July 2017
  20. abS. Hawkes, will be biggest nanny state in the EU thanks to sugar tax, experts say, The Sun Online, 31 March 2016, accessed July 2017
  21. C. Snowdon, ‘Sugar levy is an eye-catching but ill-considered gimmick’, 17 August 2016, IEA, accessed July 2017
  22. C. Snowdon, The Sugar Levy: A Briefing, IEA, 22 August 2016, accessed July 2017
  23. C. Snowdon, The false economy of the UK sugar levy, 22 August 2016, accessed July 2017
  24. G. Brailsford, Declaration of interests from the Institute of Economic Affairs submitted to the Committee on 5 November 2015, 5 November 2015, accessed July 2017
  25. Institute of Economic Affairs, ‘American Friends of the Institute of Economic Affairs’, date unknown, accessed July 2017
  26. C. Snowdon, The message of the sugar levy — drink makers are to blame for people getting fat, Health Spectator, 17 March 2016, accessed July 2017
  27. C. Snowdon, Mexico was meant to prove a sugar tax worked. New figures tell a different story, Health Spectator, 6 May 2016, accessed July 2017
  28. C. Snowdon, The Times is wrong about a sugar tax. It won’t make us thinner — just poorer, Health Spectator, 6 January 2016, accessed July 2017
  29. C. Snowdon, The case against the Case Against Sugar, Velvet Glove, Iron Fist, 21 July 2017, accessed July 2017
  30. C. Snowdon, A world of pure imagination, Velvet Glove, Iron Fist, 16 December 2016, accessed July 2017
  31. C. Snowdon, Glantz’s sugar conspiracy, Velvet Glove, Iron Fist, 15 September 2016, accessed July 2017
  32. C. Snowdon, A sugar tax is just the start, Velvet Glove, Iron Fist, 17 March 2016, accessed July 2017
  33. abC. Snowdon, “Prohibitionist accidentally tells the truth”, Velvetgloveironfist, 4 April 2012, accessed April 2012
  34. C. Snowdon, The Magic 25 %,, 23 December 2011, accessed April 2012
  35. S. Chapman, CV, current until August 2014
  36. C. Snowdon, A Real Scientist Speaks, Velvetgloveironfist, 5 March 2012, accessed April 2012
  37. S. Glantz, University home page, accessed April 2012
  38. C. Snowdon, BBC in cahoots with Big Tobacco, suspects raving lunatic, Velvetgloveironfist, 10 February 2012, accessed April 2012
  39. C. Snowdon, 2011: The ten best bits, Velvetgloveironfist, 31 December 2011, accessed April 2012
  40. C. Snowdon, Stanton Glantz Clueless Clown, Velvetgloveironfist, 6 October 2011, accessed April 2012
  41. C. Snowdon, Bashing Diageo, Velvetgloveironfist, 12 June 2011, accessed April 2012
  42. C. Snowdon, Latest smoking ban/heart attack study is pure junk science, Velvetgloveironfist, 9 June 2010
  43. C. Snowdon, Debs in Denial, velvetgloveironfist, 24 February 2011, accessed April 2012
  44. C. Snowdon, The World Health Organisation’s Week, Velvet Glove Iron Fist blog, 8 October 2018, accessed November 2019
  45. C. Snowdon, Plain packs nothing to do with health, 30 January 2012
  46. C. Snowdon, Ceci n’est pas une cigarette, Spiked Online, 7 December 2011
  47. C. Snowdon, Plain packaging, bigger picture, 30 January, 2012
  48. C. Snowdon, Campus smoking bans are naked authoritarianism 18 January 2012
  49. Democracy Institute, Democracy Institute adjunct scholar Christopher Snowdon’s new book, 28 May 2010, accessed 11 June 2011
  50. S. Clark, Invitation to a Party, Taking Liberties Blog, 23 February 2012
  51. GTNF ANTWERP 2012: Look who is talking and what they are talking about, GTNF 2012 website, accessed 20 February 2012
  52. Global Tobacco Networking Forum, Global Tobacco Networking Forum website, accessed September 2013
  53. The Free Society, Voices of Freedom
  54. Institute of Economic Affairs , Killjoys, A Critique of Paternalism, IEA website, 10 November 2017, accessed February 2021