Hugh High

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At the end of the 1990s, Hugh High was a professor in the Department of Economics, University of Cape Town, in South Africa. During his career he was also a consultant to the South African Tobacco Institute. 1

Advertising and Smoking

In 1998, Professor Hugh High visited the UK at the invitation of the Institute of Economic Affairs to present new research on tobacco advertising. His trip coincided with an important European Parliament debate on the subject.2 High also published a report with the Institute of Economic Affairs the following year, entitled: “Does Advertising Increase Smoking?” 3

Attacking The World Bank

In 1999, High was also the co-author of “Smoked Out -Anti-Tobacco Activism at the World Bank” along with Richard Tren. 4 The report seems to have been a joint effort with the Free Market Foundation and was used by BAT in its attack on the World Health Organization the following year and in its media and public relations work. 5 6 The report was also published by the Institute of Economic Affairs. 7

Worried About Independent Reputation

Despite taking money off the tobacco industry, High was obviously worried about his reputation as an independent scientist. In April 1999, Professor High wrote to Ian Birks from Gallaher:

In furtherance of our conversation of a couple of weeks ago regarding a Formula 1 submission … You will recall further that I said that, after much deliberation, I thought it would be best if I made a submission alone, and not in tandem with John Luik of the Niagara Institute…

The letter continued:

Today I received a FAX from John in which he sent to me (a) a suggested outline of a monograph and submission to Formula 1, along the general lines he and I spoke much earlier; and (b) a copy of a letter he sent to Marion Funck of Reemtsma … The letter to Dr. Funck basically related the prospects of he and I writing a monograph, and asking if Reemtsma would be disposed to purchase approximately 2000 of the books/monographs at a price of USD $35 000.”

The letter continued:

I am exceptionally concerned about my reputation, and particularly my reputation for straight-forward and honest dealing. In the longer run, I am quite convinced that matters most. I would like to make a submission to Formula One. I think the issue is important (and confess I am nothing short of amazed that the companies have not shown more interest; it is an important matter, and one about which much is at stake for a number of companies and individuals.) I think Luik does good and competent work. I recognize, however, that often that work is ‘discounted’ by many. I don’t know, now, how (if at all) to proceed, and would very much appreciate your thoughts. 8

Relevant TobaccoTactics Resources

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  1. Forces Website, About Sydney Houston (Hugh) High, Accessed March 2012
  2. ASH, Marlboro Maker Had Strategy to Buy up British Scientists to Muddy Waters on Passive Smoking, 14 April 1998, accessed March 2012
  3. Hugh High, Does Advertising Increase Smoking?, IEA, January 1999
  4. Hugh High & Richard Tren, Smoked Out: Anti-Tobacco Activism at the World Bank, 1999
  5. BAT, World Health Organisation ‘Flawed’ Move Poses Risks To Governments’ Rightsday, March 2000
  6. Fran Morrison, BBC World Service: Major Global Series, BAT, 22 March 2000
  7. Richard Tren & Hugh High, Smoked Out: Anti-Tobacco Activism at the World Bank, Institute of Economic Affairs, Accessed February 2012
  8. Professor High, Letter to Ian Birks, 25 April, 1995