Christopher Snowdon

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Christopher Snowdon is a writer and journalist who holds a history degree. In 2012, Snowdon joined the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) as a Research Fellow.[1] The IEA accepts funding from tobacco companies. A year after joining the think tank, Snowdon became Director of the IEA’s new “Lifestyle Economics” unit. [2] [3] Snowdon regularly updates his blog, Velvet Glover, Iron Fist. Also see:

Pro-Smoking Blogging for the Libertarian Right

When Snowdon first launched Velvet Glove, Iron Fist in 2008, he referred to himself as "an independent researcher and author" with "no affiliation or financial ties with the tobacco industry or any anti-smoking group"[4] This statement was removed from his website in about 2010.[5] Writing in May 2012, Snowdon argued that the reason that this disclaimer had disappeared was it:

“was probably too defensive and unnecessary even then, but after I wrote The Spirit Level Delusion, The Art of Suppression and numerous articles and papers about alcohol, happiness economics, food, drugs and the rest, it looked downright weird. And so, although it was still true, I replaced it with a more conventional and extensive biography. Absence of denial is not evidence of guilt..”[6]

Snowdon has supported pro-smoking organisations, some of whom receive tobacco industry funding, by writing for:

He is affiliated with with pro-smoking and libertarian organisations and think tanks:

  • Director of Lifestyle Economics at the IEA.[1]
  • He is also an 'Adjunct Scholar' at the Democracy Institute.[11]
  • On 27 February 2012, Snowdon spoke at the launch of the Forest's tobacco industry funded Hands Off Our Packs campaign against the plain packaging of tobacco products.[12]
  • Snowdon was invited to speak at an event organised by The Free Society and Privacy International in June 2011, entitled "Civil Liberties Up in Smoke - What are smokers’ rights in a free society?" Other speakers included:

Denigrates Public Health Scientists

Like other pro-smoking bloggers, such as Simon Clark and Dick Puddlecote, Snowdon has publically criticised leading tobacco control scientists by referring to them as “zealots”[14] and “extremists”.[15]

Snowdon has attempted to undermine the credibility of leading tobacco control scientists:

  • Professor Simon Chapman

Simon Chapman is a Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney, who has published over 480 articles in peer reviewed journals.[16] Snowdon describes him as a “scrotum-faced head-banger” who “freely promotes junk science”; a “gadfly”, who “does not even seem to display much more scientific expertise on tobacco, the subject he has been working on for decades … He also has an unfortunate habit of listening to the voices in his head and then repeating their words out loud (or on Twitter).”[14]

  • Professor Linda Bauld

Linda Bauld is a Professor of Socio-Management at the University of Stirling, who has published 40 peer-reviewed articles as well as six books. Snowdon writes: “One of the bits of voodoo science upon which the anti-smoking extremists are pinning their hopes vis a vis plain packaging came from the pen of Linda Bauld. You may recall Bauld as the fantasist who insists that the smoking ban did no harm to England's pubs.”[17]

  • Professor Stan Glantz

Professor Stan Glantz has been a leading anti-smoking academic since the late seventies and is currently a Professor at the Department of Medicine; and the Director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California.[18] Snowdon has stated that Glantz is a “raving lunatic”, arguing that “I have always feared for Stanton Glantz's mental health, but it's only since he started blogging that I've realised that the guy is genuinely certifiable.[19] He also labels Glantz a “Gobshite” who is “deranged” and a “clueless clown”.[20][21]

  • Professor Anna Gilmore

Another scientist who Snowdon has criticised is Professor Anna Gilmore, Director of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, who has published some 70 articles in peer reviewed journals. He says she is a “professor of no fixed ability”, who produces “fairy-tale science” and “Junk science”. “Or is this just more proof of Anna Gilmore's estrangement from reality? It's almost as if she's being sponsored to go around getting things wrong on as many different subjects as she can.”[22][23]

Public Health Activists

Snowdon has called the Chief Executive of the Charity Action for Smoking and Health, Deborah Arnott, a "chronically deluded neo-prohibitionist."[24]

Against Plain Packaging

In February 2012, shortly before the UK Department of Health launched its public consultation on plain packaging of tobacco products, the Adam Smith Institute published a report by Snowdon which opposed plain packaging. Echoing many of the Industry Arguments Against Plain Packaging, the report argued:

  • "there is no solid evidence of its efficacy or unintended consequences"
  • "the public does not believe that plain packaging will stop people smoking"
  • "it is hard to think of a policy that could delight counterfeiters more than standardising the design, shape and colour of cigarette packs"
  • "plain packaging is an infringement of intellectual property rights and a violation of international free trade agreements"
  • "it limits information and restricts choice".[25]

The title of the report portrays critics of the tobacco industry as radicals: Plain Packaging: Commercial expression, anti-smoking extremism and the risks of hyper-regulation.

Interviewed about his report on the Hands Off Our Packs website, Snowdon said:

It is extraordinary that a government which claims to be against excessive regulation should be contemplating a law which even the provisional wing of the anti-smoking lobby considered unthinkable until very recently. It seems that fanaticism has become institutionalised and a handful of extremists have become the de facto policy makers in matters related to tobacco.[26]
Image 1: The Institute of Economic Affair’s Christopher Snowdon reacts to the plain packaging announcement on 21 January 2015

In January 2015, the UK Government announced that it would vote on draft regulations for plain packaging before the May 2015 General Election. Snowdon appeared in the media the next day in opposition of the policy. He appeared on Five Live Breakfast and the Today programme on Radio 4.[27] He also published a self-penned article in The Telegraph[28], and his opinion statement (see image) published on the IEA’s website on the evening of the vote was cited in numerous press articles.[29][30][31] In his statement, Snowdon advertised that he was available for media comment.

Industry Funding Not Declared

In The Telegraph, Snowdon repeated the industry arguments that plain packaging in Australia has failed to work and that illicit trade has increased dramatically: “there has been a sharp increase in contraband tobacco in Australia since plain packaging was introduced.”[28] Nowhere in the article does is disclose that Christopher Snowdon worked for the IEA or that the IEA accepts tobacco industry funds, neither does the IEA state this anywhere on its website.[32] Independent evidence does not support Snowdon's statement of an increase in illicit trade in Australia. See Countering Industry Arguments Against Plain Packaging: It will Lead to Increased Smuggling.

IEA Funding Source is “Irrelevant”

In August 2014, the IEA released a report on obesity written by Snowdon, entitled The Fat Lie. [33] In a Channel 4 News interview about the report, Snowdon was pressed about the IEA’s funding and whether the think-tank received food industry money, however Snowdon said he did not know. He then added that it was “irrelevant” whether the IEA was taking food industry money or not.[34]

Report Dismissed as “Laughable Nonsense”

The obesity report was dismissed as “laughable nonsense which flies in the face of 50 years of science,” by nutrition expert, Dr Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, as well “completely wrong” by Professor Mike Lean, Chair of Human Nutrition at the University of Glasgow. [34]

Tobacco Industry Events

Snowdon was listed as a speaker at the Global Tobacco Networking Forum in Antwerp in June 2012.[35]


He is the author of several books which focus on “pleasure, prohibition and dodgy statistics”:[1]

  • Velvet Glove Iron Fist: A History of Anti-Smoking (Little Dice, 2009);
  • The Spirit Level Delusion: Fact-checking the Left's new theory of everything; and
  • The Art of Suppression: Pleasure, Panic and Prohibition since 1800 (published October 2011).[5]
  • Selfishness, Greed and Capitalism: Debunking myths about the Free Market. (Institute of Economic Affairs, 2015)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 IEA Website, People, accessed February 2012
  2. IEA, Lifestyle Economics, undated, accessed August 2016
  3. IEA, Lifestyle Economics -
Official Launch Event, 1 May 2013, accessed August 2016
  4. Archive of, 10 March 2008, accessed March 2012
  5. 5.0 5.1 C. Snowdon, About the Author, Velvetgloveironfist, accessed April 2012
  6. C. Snowdon, Odd Hominems,, 8 May 2012
  7. C. Snowdon, Plain packs nothing to do with health, 30 January 2012
  8. C. Snowdon, Ceci n’est pas une cigarette, Spiked Online, 7 December 2011
  9. C. Snowdon, Plain packaging, bigger picture, 30 January, 2012
  10. C. Snowdon, Campus smoking bans are naked authoritarianism 18 January 2012
  11. Democracy Institute, Democracy Institute adjunct scholar Christopher Snowdon's new book, 28 May 2010, accessed 11 June 2011
  12. S. Clark, Invitation to a Party, Taking Liberties Blog, 23 February 2012
  13. The Free Society, Voices of Freedom
  14. 14.0 14.1 C. Snowdon, “Prohibitionist accidentally tells the truth”, Velvetgloveironfist, 4 April 2012, accessed April 2012
  15. C. Snowdon, The Magic 25 %,, 23 December 2011, accessed April 2012
  16. S. Chapman, CV, current until August 2014
  17. C. Snowdon, A Real Scientist Speaks, Velvetgloveironfist, 5 March 2012, accessed April 2012
  18. S. Glantz, University home page, accessed April 2012
  19. C. Snowdon, BBC in cahoots with Big Tobacco, suspects raving lunatic, Velvetgloveironfist, 10 February 2012, accessed April 2012
  20. C. Snowdon, 2011: The ten best bits, Velvetgloveironfist, 31 December 2011, accessed April 2012
  21. C. Snowdon, Stanton Glantz Clueless Clown, Velvetgloveironfist, 6 October 2011, accessed April 2012
  22. C. Snowdon, Bashing Diageo, Velvetgloveironfist, 12 June 2011, accessed April 2012
  23. C. Snowdon, Latest smoking ban/heart attack study is pure junk science, Velvetgloveironfist, 9 June 2010
  24. C. Snowdon, Debs in Denial, velvetgloveironfist, 24 February 2011, accessed April 2012
  25. C. Snowdon, Plain packaging: Commercial expression, anti-smoking extremism and the risks of hyper-regulation, Adam Smith Institute, 20 February 2012
  26. Hands Off Our Packs, Plain packaging "will bring no benefits" says think tank, 20 February 2012
  27. Today Programme, Christopher Snowdon interview: start at 01:22:05, BBC Radio 4, 22 January 2015, accessed February 2015
  28. 28.0 28.1 C. Snowdon, All the plain packaging lobby really wants is to hear tobacco companies squeal, The Telegraph, 22 January 2015, accessed August 2016
  29. M. Price, Enforcing of standardised tobacco packaging takes encouraging step, Manchester Evening News, 22 January 2015, accessed February 2015
  30. Cigarettes likely to be sold in plain packs from May 2016, Standard Reporter, 22 January 2015, accessed March 2015
  31. J. Chapman, Plain cigarette packet law to be passed BEFORE the election to stop new generation of smokers, Daily Mail, 21 January 2015, accessed March 2015
  32. Transparify, How transparent are think tanks about who funds them 2016? A survey of 200 think tanks in 47 countries worldwide, Tbilisi, Georgia, 29 June 2016, accessed August 2016
  33. Institute of Economic Affairs, Inactivity, not calorie consumption, behind rising obesity in the UK, 18 August 2014, accessed September 2014
  34. 34.0 34.1 T. Clarke, Obesity crisis: sorting the ‘fat’ from the fiction, Channel 4 News, 18 August 2014, accessed September 2014
  35. GTNF ANTWERP 2012: Look who is talking and what they are talking about, GTNF 2012 website, accessed 20 February 2012