Patrick Basham

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Patrick Basham is the director of the London and Washington based think tank the Democracy Institute.1 Basham was also the founding director of the Social Affairs Center at the tobacco industry funded Fraser Institute in Canada, and Adjunct Fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute.2
Basham, whose most frequent publications focus on tobacco, alcohol and obesity, has a history of pro-tobacco work. Some of his work is also profiled on the Fraser Institute‘s page.
Simon Clark, the director of Forest, describes Basham as an “old friend”.3

Pro-Tobacco Work

Downplaying Risks of Second Hand Smoke

In April 1999, Basham praised a book written by John Luik, with whom he has had a long association, and Gio Gori. The book, Passive Smoke: The EPA’s Betrayal of Science and Policy, attempted to downplay the risk of second hand smoke. It accused “the EPA of corrupting science to engage in a campaign of public disinformation”. Basham said:

“Given the current move among Canadian municipalities, such as Victoria, to enact stringent anti-smoking bylaws, we need to look carefully at what science, not conjecture, is really telling us about the dangers of second-hand smoke.” 4

Later that year in August, the Fraser Institute invited “leading scientists, public-policy experts, and journalists to meet to debate the costs and benefits of tobacco regulation”. Basham argued the Institute was interested in the issue to defend people’s right “to trade longevity knowingly for pleasure”.5

Against Display Bans and Further Controls on Tobacco

In 2009, John Luik and Basham wrote a report attacking tobacco Display Bans, published by the Democracy Institute. 6
In March 2011 Patrick Basham was one of 11 signatories of a Letter to the Editor in the Daily Telegraph attacking the UK Government’s position on tobacco control and arguing against further restrictions.
The previous year, Basham had written a discussion paper for the Institute of Economic Affairs, entitled “Canada’s ruinous tobacco display ban: economic and public health lessons”, in which he concluded: “the empirical evidence does not demonstrate that tobacco display bans have reduced smoking prevalence or consumption in the four countries where they have been instituted: Canada, Iceland, Ireland, and Thailand. In this sense, display bans appear to be – like so many other tobacco control policies – highly ineffective”. 7
The discussion paper was highly criticised by Cancer Research UK, which argued that Basham’s paper had various “general weaknesses”, namely that:

  • It did not disclose Patrick Basham’s longstanding links with the tobacco industry.
  • Neither the paper, nor the evidence it relied on, was published in peer-reviewed journals.
  • It had “internal inconsistencies in which factors are considered or discounted in different countries”.
  • The report contained “selective evidence” that “undermined claims about the effects of a display ban”, such as “the arguments in favour of removing displays of tobacco in shops are incompletely covered as they ignore the key point that displays are recognised by WHO (and marketers) as a form of advertising”.8

Against Health Warnings

Writing in July 2011, Patrick Basham and John Luik argued that graphic health warnings on cigarettes did not work, and called them a “complete and utter policy failure”.9

Against Plain Packaging

In November 2011, Patrick Basham sent a letter to the Financial Times, reiterating the industry argument that plain packaging “will not stop young people smoking”. Basham argued that “the actual evidence in support of the plain packaging of cigarettes is embarrassingly thin. Most studies show that plain packaging will have no statistically significant effect on youth smoking”.10

Industry Events

Basham presented at TabExpo 2011 in Prague.11
He was also a speaker at the 2010, 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2017 Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum, an annual tobacco industry event.12

TobaccoTactics Resources

TCRG Research

  • : Evidence on Plain Packaging
  • References

    1. Democracy Institute, About Us, Accessed February 2010
    2. Cato Institute, Patrick Basham, website, accessed Feb 2010
    3. Simon Clark, Plain Packaging Show us the Evidence, Taking Liberties Blog, 30 November 2011
    4. Canada Newswire, Are the dangers of second hand smoke second hand science? 20 April 1999
    5. Patrick Basham, Public Policy Sources #40, Preface, Fraser Institute, 8 July 1999
    6. Cato Institute, Displaying Their Ignorance on Smoking, website, April 2009, Accessed March 2012
    7. Patrick Basham, Canada’s ruinous tobacco display ban:economic and public health lessons, IEA Discussion Paper, July 2010
    8. Cancer Research UK, A response by Cancer Research UK to Canada’s ruinous tobacco display ban: economic and public health lessons by Patrick Basham Institute of Economic Affairs Discussion Paper 29, Undated, Accessed March 2012
    9. Patrick Bash and John Luik, Tobacco’s Graphic Warning for the Gambling Industry,, 15 July 2011; Accessed December 2011
    10. Patrick Basham, Plain packaging will not stop young people smoking, Letter to the Financial Times, 24 November 2011
    11. TR Staff Report. Strong Line Up. Tobacco Reporter, July 2011, accessed October 2011
    12. GTNF, GTNF ANTWERP 2012: Look who is talking and what they are talking about, GTNF 2012 website, accessed 6 April 2012