Sinclair Davidson

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Sinclair Davidson is Professor Institutional Economics at the School of Economics, Finance and Marketing at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University in Australia.1

Relationship with the Tobacco Industry

Davidson is Adjunct Fellow (previously Senior Research Fellow) at the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), an Australian think tank which has received funding from British American Tobacco (BAT).2345
In 2012, The Sydney Morning Herald accused IPA of lacking transparency in the debate around plain packaging, by presenting itself as an independent entity while simultaneously being funded by BAT.6

Davidson declared in 2016, in a post on the Australian libertarian blog Catallaxy Files, that he did not receive money from either the tobacco industry or from the IPA.7 He added that he does not know whether the IPA receives funding from the tobacco industry. “I am not in the pay of big tobacco; I am an academic economist who tests and critiques government policy.”8
In 2016 and 2017, Davidson was a speaker at the tobacco-industry funded event, the Global Tobacco & Nicotine Forum.910 and was listed as a speaker in 2018 See also:

Against Plain Packaging

Davidson has voiced strong opinions against the tobacco plain packaging policy, which was introduced in December 2012 in Australia, claiming there was no proof that it is effective and that it undermined intellectual property rights.111213
Davidson was quoted in the Canadian media saying that Canada’s proposals to introduce plain packaging wouldn’t work if Canada’s experience turned out like plain packaging in Australia.14 He added that plain packaging increased the purchase of illegal and contraband cigarettes and did not have any effect on reducing tobacco smoking prevalence.
In another paper, Davidson claimed that plain packaging policies were not evidence based.15
Davidson has also alleged that the Australian Government manipulated its data on plain packaging to show that the policy measure had been successful in the country.16 According to Davidson, the observed decrease in smoking prevalence change was due to brand switching and increased excise tax, not plain packaging.
Many of Davidson’s arguments, which were echoed by the tobacco industry, have been debunked by emerging evidence of the impact of plain packaging in Australia.17
For evidence against specific arguments, visit our page on Countering Industry Arguments against Plain Packaging.

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  1. RMIT University, Staff Profile: Professor Sinclair Davidson, 2017, undated, accessed February 2017
  2. Institute of Public Affairs, People & associates: Sinclair Davidson, undated, accessed February 2017
  3. Institute of Public Affairs, Sinclair Davidson, undated, accessed July 2019
  4. D. D’Cruz, Give smokers some respect: The anti-tobacco lobby has turned smoking into a moral defect, charges Don D’Cruz, The Australian , 15 April 2002, accessed July 2019
  5. Unknown, Public Affairs Review 1993, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, 5 April 1994, Bates No: 700314274-700314366, accessed July 2019
  6. J. Swan, Institute opposing plain packaging funded by tobacco company, The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 May 2012, accessed July 2019
  7. S. Davidson, interview with the Globe and Mail, Catallaxy Files, posted on 20 October 2016 5:27pm, accessed July 2019
  8. In the blog post Davidson disclosed that he had been invited in 2016 by the Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA) to present his plain packaging research in Canada, but added that he had not received any payment for the talks. CCSA is funded by fees paid by its members, including Japan Tobacco International and BAT’s wholly owned Canadian subsidiary Imperial Tobacco (not to be confused with Bristol-based Imperial Tobacco).18Canadian Convenience Stores Association, Our Members, undated, accessed October 2017
  9. Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum, Look who’s talking 2016, accessed November 2017
  10. Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum, Look who’s talking 2017, accessed October 2017
  11. S. Davidson, Blowing Smoke on Plain Packaging, Quadrant, 12 August 2014, accessed February 2017
  12. S. Davidson, A. De Silva, The Plain Truth about Plain Packaging: An Econometric Analysis of the Australian 2011 Tobacco Plain Packaging Act, Agenda: A Journal of Policy Analysis and Reform, 2014; 21(1),pp27-43
  13. S. Davidson, A. de Silva, Stubbing Out the Evidence of Tobacco Plain Packaging Efficacy: An Analysis of the Australian National Tobacco Plain Packaging Survey, 17 May 2016, posted 20 May 2016, accessed October 2017, DOI
  14. L. Britten, Plain tobacco packaging increases purchases and contraband, Australian prof says, CBC News, 6 June 2016, accessed October 2017
  15. S. Davidson, Evidence Lacking in the Tobacco Wars, Review – Institute of Public Affairs, 66.2 August 2014: 36-39, accessed October 2017
  16. Global Tobacco & Nicotine Forum 2016, Sinclair Davidson Claims Freedom of Information request shows Australian Government manipulated plain packs data, 2016, accessed July 2019
  17. Australian Department of Health, Tobacco Plain Packaging: Post Implementation Review, Australian Government website, last updated 26 February 2017, accessed July 2019