Institute of Economic Affairs
The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) is a leading right wing UK think tank, set up in 1955, which has a history of close collaboration with the tobacco industry, detailed on the pages below:
Against Plain Packaging
Hands Off Our Packs Campaign
The IEA's director Littlewood is a prominent supporter of Forest's Hands Off Our Packs campaign against plain packaging, and spoke at its launch in January 2012.   Littlewood also is one of the founders of Progressive Vision, a libertarian lobby group, and its offshoot Liberal Vision, both very active on the pro-smoking front. Angela Harbutt, executive director of Liberal Vision, is the coordinator of the Hands Off Our Packs campaign. In fact, there are close connections between the organisations and the people involved, which are outlined here and on related Tobacco Tactics pages. Harbutt and Littlewood for instance were partners in 2010, while Progressive Vision has been registered at his home address since 2007.
Plain Packs Book
On the eve of the British Government's consultation on Plain Packaging on No Smoking Day 2012, Patrick Basham and John Luik, who have a history of pro-tobacco work, published a book on the issue of Plain Packaging, entitled "The Plain Truth". The book was launched at the Institute of Economic Affairs.
The press release for the book noted: "Plain packaging does not work. Furthermore, it cannot work, argue Patrick Basham and John Luik in this timely, provocative book that confronts the public health establishment’s proposal to mandate the plain packaging of tobacco products."
Plain Packs "Will Do Nothing to Improve Health"
In April 2012, when the Government announced its consultation on plain packaging, the IEA's response was predictable and similar to arguments put forward by the tobacco industry. Commenting on the announcement, Mark Littlewood, said: "This consultation is a patronising and unnecessary distraction which will do nothing to improve the public's health ... It is inconceivable that any adult in the country can be unaware that there are health risks associated with smoking. Branding and imagery on cigarette packets do not lead anyone to believe otherwise."
Littlewood added: "The keenest enthusiasts for plain packaging in Britain will be organised crime networks who already control a substantial proportion of tobacco sales and whose lives will be made considerably easier should this policy be pursued." 
In January 2013, the IEA established what it called a “Lifestyle Economics” unit. “In recent years the IEA has undertaken extensive research in the area of lifestyle products”, said the IEA. “This, combined with an increasing focus by the government and general public on the issues surrounding alcohol, tobacco, gambling, sugar, fat and soft drinks, has made the formation of the unit timely and necessary”.  The unit is run by Chris Snowdon.
Against Display Bans
This was not the first time that the IEA had published Basham's work.
In 2010, the IEA published a discussion paper by him entitled "Canada's ruinous tobacco display ban: economic and public health lessons", in which Basham 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". 
The discussion paper was highly criticised by Cancer Research UK. It argued that Basham's paper had a number of "general weaknesses", namely that:
- It did not disclose Patrick Basham’s long-standing 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". 
Against Further Restrictions
Littlewood has also spoken out against the proposed Display Ban before. In March 2011, Littlewood was one of a number of signatories of a Letter to the Editor to the Daily Telegraph attacking the Government's position on tobacco control and arguing against further restrictions.
Attacking ASH and its Funding
Like many pro-tobacco groups, the IEA criticises the public funding of groups like ASH. Writing in October 2010, Littlewood quoted a report published by the tobacco industry funded group Forest that had detailed the state funding given to anti-tobacco campaigning groups by public bodies. Although Littlewood had to concede that "The numbers are, unsurprisingly, tiny in terms of the overall budget deficit – eliminating ASH’s annual grant of £142,000 from the Department of Health is very small beer when tackling a deficit of £150bn".
The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and Adam Smith Institute took part in a series of debates about civil liberties, risk and freedom, organised by Forest and the Free Society in June 2010 and June 2011.
Tobacco Industry Funding?
In May 2012, when the IEA was asked to clarify whether it was receiving money from the tobacco industry, the think tank declined to do so. Its spokesperson Ruth Porter said: "We receive no public money and are independently funded. We do not disclose information about who our donors are." 
Relevant TobaccoTactics Pages
Other entries relevant to the IEA:
- Angela Harbutt
- Letter to the Editor
- Mark Littlewood
- Patrick Basham
- John Luik
- Hugh High
- Hands Off Our Packs
- IEA: History of Close Ties with the Tobacco Industry
- IEA: Working with RJ Reynolds, BAT and Philip Morris on Environmental Risk
- ↑ IEA blog, Mark Littlewood appointed Director General of the IEA, 26 October 2009, accessed June 2012
- ↑ Hands Off Our Packs, Supporters, Accessed February 2012
- ↑ Simon Clark, Hands Off Our Packs Launch Party, Taking Liberties blog, 28 February 2012
- ↑ Economic Research Council, 13th July: Mark Littlewood, Director General of the IEA, undated, accessed June 2012
- ↑ Companies House, Company appointments for Progressive Vision Limited, Reg. nr. 06401466, accessed June 2012
- ↑ Institute of Economic Affairs, The Plain Truth, Accessed February 2012
- ↑ PRNewsire, "Plain Packaging of Tobacco: the State Should not Regulate Which Colours we are Allowed to Look at", London, 13 April 2012
- ↑ IEA, Lifestyle Economics, undated
- ↑ Patrick Basham, Canada's ruinous tobacco display ban:economic and public health lessons, IEA Discussion Paper, July 2010
- ↑ 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
- ↑ Mark Littlewood, Coalition should stop funding anti-smoking groups, 28 October 2010
- ↑ The Free Society, Voices of Freedom, undated, accessed January 2012
- ↑ IEA, Does Advertising Increase Smoking?, Website, Accessed March 2012
- ↑ Ruth Porter, Email to Tobacco Control Research Group, University of Bath, 11 May 2012