ASI: History of Close Ties with the Tobacco Industry

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History of Being Funded by the Tobacco Industry

British American Tobacco

In the 1980s, British American Tobacco supported the Adam Smith Institute (ASI), first with small donations in 1981 and later, increasing amounts of UK£500 in 1987 and UK£750 in 1988.1234

Tobacco Advisory Council

Minutes from a meeting of the Tobacco Advisory Council in 1992 noted that following a letter on the issue of “Tagged Taxes” from John Clutterbuck, “TAC would consider reactivating work already done in this area by the Adam Smith Institute among others”.5.

The following year the TAC gave UK£5,000 to Dr Bracewell Milnes to work on taxation and trade issues.6 Minutes from a TAC meeting show that the money went to Dr Milnes, who had previously written on tax issues for Forest, to write a paper called A Disorderly House – UK Excise Duties, which “contained-some helpful points on the excessive amount of UK excise”.

A contribution of UK£5,000 by TAC was confirmed following the increased emphasis given to tobacco in the paper. TAC would liaise with Adam Smith Institute on their plan for handling the paper and to determine the best means of co-operating with them.”7 A Disorderly House was later circulated by the TAC to financial and economic journalists.8

Confederation of European Community Cigarette Manufacturers (CECCM)

In 1992, CECCM‘s (now known as Tobacco Europe) Board approved proposals for two separate but complementary projects be commissioned with a budget of UK£30,000. The first proposal was for an ASI “report by Russell Lewis and Timothy Evans of some 20,000 to 25,000 words”. The Board noted:

“The report would position the EC anti-tobacco proposals in the context of a host of proposals which progressively restrict personal freedom, and present a punitive counter-argument for the traditional values of European individual freedom. The ASI has agreed in principle to adopt the proposed report and effectively to market it as an ASI report. The ASI has contacts with a number or institutes across Europe and will attempt, if required, a collaborative public relations campaign on the report; its tobacco report may therefore be expected to generate substantial press and media coverage.”910

A year later in 1993, the ASI published a book entitled Europe at Risk – Bureaucratic Betrayal of the European Ideal by Tim Evans and Russell Lewis (also see below). The book argued: “One of the most disturbing features of the European Community in recent years has been the proliferation of campaigns designed to restrict personal freedom and individual choice. The nanny state has gone beyond mere warnings and now is taking positive action to protect us from the alleged dangers of alcohol, tobacco and certain foods. Around the Commission has sprung up a huge lobby, with its own vested interests, systematically seeking to impose upon individuals its own ‘politically correct’ views.”

Nowhere in the booklet did the ASI say the book had been funded by the tobacco lobby.11

Later in 1993, CECCM’s Advertising and Sponsorship Study Group “unanimously recommended” that another proposal by Tim Evans for a further book entitled Where Europe? An analysis of the rise of political paternalism in developed democratic States be commissioned at a total cost of UK£15,800 (including underwriting publishing costs). CECCM’s Board approved the proposed expenditure.12

History of Defending the Tobacco Industry

Abolish Taxes on Tobacco

In the 1980s, the ASI argued that the abolition of excise duties on alcohol and tobacco should be a long-term aim of government policy, subject to budgetary constraints.13

Pro-Tobacco Journalistic Centre

In 1992, Craig Fuller from Philip Morris noted how he had “Met with the Adam Smith Institute to discuss preliminary plans for an International Journalism Center based on the model successfully employed by the PM-supported National Journalism Center in Washington. The Institute would conduct training for print and electronic journalists on free market principles that would be ideologically consistent with [Philip Morris’] issues and interests.14

Forest Ghost-writes Section of ASI Report

In October 1993, Chris Tame from Forest wrote to Rothmans (acquired by BAT in 1999), Gallaher (acquired by JTI in 2007), Imperial Tobacco, British American Tobacco, Tobacco Advisory Council, and Tobacco Documentation Centre regarding “the Section on “Smoking” in Russell Lewis’ The Environmental Alphabet”. He wrote:

“I thought you would like to see the enclosed photocopy of the section on ‘Smoking’ in Russell Lewis’s The Environmental Alphabet which has just been published by the Adam Smith Institute. It has been widely reviewed in the national press and Russell Lewis has done 10 media appearances about it so far. In fact I wrote this section for Russell, and, as you will see it can now be quoted to our advantage!”15

Relevant Links

Adam Smith Institute website: https://www.adamsmith.org/

TobaccoTactics Resources

References

  1. Unknown, Agenda for the Meeting of the Board of Directors of BAT Industries Limited, 27 October 1981, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no. 201114421-201114422
  2. P. Sheehy, Letter from Patrick Sheehy to E Palamountain regarding “computer error”, 19 April 1988, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no. 202224303
  3. Unknown, Discretionary Spend of the AAC during 1987, undated, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no. 201142506-201142507
  4. Unknown, Minutes of the meeting held on 3rd May 1988, 3 May 1988, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no. 201509959-201509961
  5. Unkown, Minutes of the 191st Meeting of the Public Relations Committee of TAC held on December 15, 1992, 15 December 1992, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no. 300542717-300542723
  6. Tobacco Advisory Council, Tobacco Advisory Council Proposed Budget Year to 31 March 1994, 31 March 1994, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no. 304043980-304043991
  7. Unknown, Minutes of the 112th Meeting of the Taxation and Trade Committee held on 18 February 1993, 18 February 1993, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no. 600517772-600517775
  8. Unknown, Minutes of the 113th Meeting of the Taxation and Trade Committee held on 30 March 1993, 30 March 1993, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no. 600517768-600517771
  9. The Confederation of European Community Cigarette Manufacturers Limited, Minutes of Board Meeting held on Tuesday, 8 September 1992, 8 September 1992, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no. 301151511-301151519
  10. The Confederation of European Community Cigarette Manufacturers Limited, Abbreviated Minutes of Board Meeting held on Tuesday, 8 September 1992, 8 September 1992, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no. 301151520-301151523
  11. Adam Smith Institute, C. Davies, T. Evans & R. Lewis, Europe at Risk, Bureaucratic Betrayal of the European Ideal, 1993, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no. 500906606-500906656
  12. Unknown, Extract of Minutes of Board Meeting held on Thursday, 2nd September 1993, 3 December 1993, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no. 500002725-500002737
  13. B. Bracewell-Milnes, Smoking and Personal Choice – The Problem of Tobacco Taxation, Forest, March 1985, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no. TI17000345
  14. Philip Morris & C. Fuller, January Monthly Report, 4 February 1992, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no. 2024671858-2024671861
  15. FOREST & C. Tame, Section on “Smoking” in Russell Lewis’ The Environmental Alphabet, 20 October 1993, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no. 502559187-502559190
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