The Reason Foundation is an American think tank which describes its mission as “advancing a free society by developing, applying, and promoting libertarian principles, including individual liberty, free markets, and the rule of law”. It claims to “change the way people think about issues, and promote policies that allow and encourage individuals and voluntary institutions to flourish”. The Foundation also identifies itself as an institution that engages in policy research.
Relationship with the Tobacco Industry
- The 1981/1982 Annual Report of the Reason Foundation listed Brown & Williamson Tobacco as a “Contributor”.
- Philip Morris USA 1993 contribution report disclosed contributing $10,000 to the Reason Foundation in 1993, and $40,000 in the previous year as “General Support”.
- Philip Morris USA also reported contributions of $20,000 in 2000, with a similar sum proposed for the following year.
Despite historical evidence of tobacco industry funding, it is unclear whether the Reason Foundation has received any recent contributions. The Foundation reported receiving contributions worth $9,185,812 in their 2015 financial statements. However, no funders were named. All donations were declared as “voluntary contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations”.
Communicating Pro-Tobacco Messages
The think tank has a number of different communication channels, namely, The Reason magazine, a blog and a TV channel. Each of these channels has promoted anti-tobacco regulation messages in relation to tax measures, plain packaging, regulations to control e-cigarette use and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and its approach to harm reduction. The FCTC is the world's first global public health Treaty which reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health and provides legal dimensions for international health cooperation.
The FCTC Implementation and Harm Reduction
The FCTC Conference of the Parties (COP) is the governing body which keeps the implementation of the FCTC under review. In September 2016, a few weeks before the seventh FCTC COP, Julian Morris, the Reason Foundation’s Vice President Research, authored a Foundation policy brief in which he argued that the World Health Organization’s (WHO) opposition to tobacco harm reduction was a threat to public health. He accused the FCTC of being a threat to good governance and transparency, because the two preceding COPs in 2012 and 2014 did not allow the participation of the “affected”, namely, tobacco users, vendors, and farmers. According to Morris, WHO ought to be in favour of e-cigarettes and harm reduction.
The Foundation strongly opposed proposed tobacco tax increases in three states in the United States in 2016, arguing that the government was making money at the expense of smokers. The Foundation engaged in a similar campaign in 2014, claiming that in Canada, increased tobacco tax led to an increase in the illicit tobacco trade.
Staff Affiliated with the Tobacco Industry
The Reason Foundation provides a list of its staff on its website. The following staff member has a history of tobacco industry engagement:
- Jacob Sullum - is Senior Editor of Reason Magazine and had has been a member of the Foundation since the late 1980s. He published many books, articles and reports favourable to the tobacco industry and was featured in a tobacco industry-led campaign against second hand smoking regulations.
- Think Tanks
- Lobby Groups
- Plain Packaging in the UK: Tobacco Industry Built Alliances
- Third Party Techniques
- Atlas Network
- Reason Foundation, About Us, 2016, accessed November 2016
- Gage, Theodore, Sheaffer et al. The Reason Foundation: Annual Report, Fiscal Year 1981/82, Tobacco Institute Records; RPCI Tobacco Institute and Council for Tobacco Research Records. Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: TI12770195-TI12770218, accessed December 2016
- Unknown, 1993 Corporate Contributions Report for PM USA/NYO, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: 930000, accessed December 2016
- Unknown, Public Policy Grants Proposed Budget. 2001. Philip Morris Records, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: 20010000, accessed December 2016
- The Reason Foundation, Financial statements for the year ended September 30, 2015, 2015, accessed December 2016
- WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, About the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, undated, accessed February 2017
- WHO FCTC, Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, undated, accessed February 2017
- J. Morris, Reason Foundation Policy Brief No. 136 - The WHO’s Opposition to Tobacco Harm Reduction: A Threat to Public Health?, Reason Foundation, 2016, accessed December 2016
- B. Fojtik, North Dakota’s Cigarette Tax Measure Looks Like a Blank Check for Government Spending, Reason Foundation, 2016, accessed December 2016
- B. Fojtik, Cigarette Taxes and Spending Requirements for Anti-Tobacco Programs Don’t Belong In Colorado’s State Constitution, Reason Foundation, 2016, accessed December 2016
- B. Fojtik, California Shouldn't Create Constitutional Workarounds to Target Smokers With Tax Increases, Reason Foundation, 2016, accessed December 2016
- K. Furtick, C. Malcolm, A. Randazzo, Reason Foundation Policy Brief No. 113 - The Effect of Cigarette Tax Rates on Illicit Trade: Lessons Learned in Canada, Reason Foundation, 2014, accessed December 2016
- J. Morris, Reason Foundation Policy Brief No. 117 - Smoking, Plain Packaging and Public Health, Reason Foundation, 2014, accessed December 2016
- J. Sullum, California Bill to Restrict E-Cigarettes Would Harm Public Health, Reason Foundation, 2015, accessed December 2016
- J. Morris, A.U. Khan, The Vapour Revolution: How Bottom-Up Innovation Is Saving Lives, Reason Foundation, 2016, accessed December 2016
- Reason Foundation, Reason Foundation Staff Alphabetical Listing, 2016, accessed December 2016
- Reason Foundation Reason Foundation Experts: Jacob Sullum, accessed December 2016
- S.W. Moskowitz, J.H. Robinson. RJ Reynolds Records, WEBSITE. 1999 August 17; 1999 August 18, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: 531907107-531907111, December 2016
- T. Borelli. 1995 October 11. Sullum, Philip Morris Records, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: 2048852841B, accessed December 2016
- D. Colby. Philip Morris Records, Ads Jacob Sullum /Media Critic. 1995 October 17, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: 2048852778, accessed December 2016
- D.J. Theroux. RJ Reynolds Records. Independent institute. Our phone call, 2000 October 23, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: 532132812-532132814, December 2016
- Philip Morris, T. Borelli. Philip Morris Records. Unknown. 1994 August 31, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: 2072494406, December 2016