Gerry Stimson

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One of UK's Pre-eminent Social Scientists on Drugs and Alcohol

Professor Gerry Stimson has nearly 40 years’ experience of research on drug and alcohol issues and one of his online biographies labels him as “one of the UK’s pre-eminent social scientists in this field”. [1] Another online biography outlines how he “was one of the founders of harm reduction in the 1980s, and much of his academic research focused on reducing drug and alcohol related harms.” [2]


Stimson is the Company Secretary as well as a Director of Knowledge-Action-Change (K-A-C) which says it is “committed to the development and promotion of evidence-based policies and interventions in the field of substance use and related areas of public health and public policy.”[3]

K-A-C manages the website Nicotine Science Policy, that focusses predominantly on “nicotine containing products, in particular nicotine delivery devices such as electronic cigarettes and novel nicotine delivery systems.” [4]

In addition, K-A-C is responsible for organising the Global Forum on Nicotine. The Forum says it is “funded by registration fees and does not receive any sponsorship from manufacturers, distributors or retailers of nicotine products including pharmaceutical, electronic cigarette and tobacco companies”.[5]

New Nicotine Alliance

Stimson is also on the Board of the New Nicotine Alliance, which says it is “completely independent of commercial interests in relevant industries (e-cigarettes, tobacco, pharmaceutical companies, etc). It operates on a not-for-profit basis and is free from commercial bias”.[6] [7]

Links to Academia, Governments, the World Bank, UN and WHO

In 2016, Stimson held an Emeritus Chair at Imperial College and was a Visiting Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. By now he had published over 220 scientific publications. [8]

According to his biography on Nicotine Science and Policy, accessed in March 2016: “He has advised the UK Government, World Health Organization, UNAIDS [Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS], UNODC [United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime], the World Bank and others on issues relating to drugs and addiction. He was a member of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence [NICE up to 2013] working group that recently prepared guidelines on tobacco harm reduction. He has no competing interests." [9]

Tobacco Industry Links

Hospitality from the Tobacco Industry

At a NICE Programme Development Group (PDG) for Tobacco Harm Reduction meeting in 2011, Stimson declared he had "received hospitality from British American Tobacco staff and has reciprocated." [10] as well as “declared that last year he attended a Christmas drinks receptions at British American Tobacco Ltd”. [11]

Funding From BAT’s E-Cigarette Subsidiary

At the February 2013 NICE meeting, Stimson also “declared that he is the director of a company called Knowledge Action Change, which has requested and received development funding from Nicoventures for a project to support smoking cessation in a closed setting.”[12] Nicoventures was set up by BAT in 2010. Stimson is largely transparent about these links in the academic literature although he describes Nicoventures only as an e-cigarette company rather than a company set up by BAT.

For example, one such declaration says: “A company of which G.S. [Gerry Stimson] is a director has received a research feasibility grant from an electronic cigarette company developing a new nicotine delivery device.”[13][14]

The links are also disclosed in the British Medical Journal, [15] and in an Appendix to a letter on e-cigarettes to the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2014. [16] [17] In these he refers to receiving money from “a company developing a nicotine delivery device” or a “company developing a nicotine product”.

Alcohol Industry Links

International Harm Reduction Association

From 2004 to 2010, Stimson was the Executive Director of the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA), whose aim is to reduce the negative health, social and human rights impacts of drug use and drug policy. [8]

At the time that Stimson was Director, the IHRA broadened out to work on alcohol. An academic article published in December 2014, argued that IHRA had a “close relationship” with the alcohol industry.[18] According to the paper, the IHRA “specifically promotes reducing harm by means other than reducing consumption”, although reducing consumption is seen as the main way to reduce harm from alcohol.[19]

For example, in August 2004, the IHRA was a co-sponsor of the 2nd International Conference on Alcohol and Harm Reduction, where the focus was on challenging “traditional models” of thinking on alcohol. At the conference there was an emphasis on a “shift of attention from reducing alcohol consumption per se to reducing alcohol related harm;” [20] [21]

For the time that Stimson was a director, IHRA accounts reveal the Association took some £260,000 from the alcohol industry in restricted (funds that can only be used for specific purposes) and unrestricted funding. (See Table 1) [22][23][24][25][26]

Table 1

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Total
Unrestricted alcohol funding 39,993 33,737 15,000 - - 88,730
Restricted (Diageo Alcohol and City project 59,834 40,166 3,000 30,026 41,974 175,000
Total 99,827 73,903 18,000 30,026 41,974 263,730

In 2008, when IHRA launched the Global Alcohol Harm Reduction Network, it said it was “funded and administered by IHRA. The network activities are funded through IHRA’s core funding, which is raised from a wide range of sources (such as conferences, project grants, membership, and donations)."

In previous years, this core funding has included unrestricted donations from the alcohol industry, but IHRA no longer receives any such funding for this work.”[27]

In an online debate, Stimson has maintained that “there was no close relationship, association or collaboration with the alcohol industry” during the period when he was Director of the IHRA between 2004-2010.[28]

"Drinking in Context”

There has been a controversy over a book that Stimson co-edited in the noughties on alcohol. Despite the involvement of alcohol funded think-tanks with researchers on the book, some of these links have since been downplayed and the book has been criticised in the academic press.

In 2007, Stimson was the “main editor” of a book “Drinking in context: patterns, interventions, and partnerships”,[29] in which both IHRA and International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP), collaborated. The book has been highly criticised in leading medical journals (see below).

The foreword to the book said:

“The International Center for Alcohol Policies, which has taken the lead in the preparation of the book, is a think-tank supported by major drinks companies. Three other organizations have also contributed their expertise to this process: the International Harm Reduction Association has extensive experience in the field of illicit drugs; the World Federation for Mental Health has broad mandate to promote better mental health; and the Institut de Recherches Scientifiques sur les Boissons provides a welcome antidote to the Anglo-Saxon domination of the alcohol field.” [30]

ICAP’s website also outlined how:

“This book was commissioned by the International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP), with assistance of expertise from the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA), World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), and the Institut de Recherches Scientifiques sur les Boissons (IREB).” [31]

Other material issued by ICAP admits that “The initiative in preparing this book was spearheaded by the International Center for Alcohol Policies”. [32],

Despite these statements, in 2014, the then President of ICAP, Marcus Grant, refuted that IHRA and ICAP collaborated in the book, arguing that “This book was not the result of a collaboration between ICAP and the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) … I co-edited the book with three co-editors including Gerry Stimson, President of IHRA at the time, who did this work in his personal capacity.” [33]

“Smoke and Mirrors"

One critic, writing in the peer-reviewed journal Addiction criticised this book as a ‘‘smoke and mirrors’’ attempt to distract attention away from effective population level policies on alcohol.

Of the 26 authors in the book, the article outlined how eight either worked for the alcohol industry or for organisations funded by the industry.[34]

Another reviewer, this time in the British Medical Journal added: “This book chiefly serves the purposes of the global alcohol industry and offers little to those wishing to tackle the unrestrained growth in global alcohol consumption that is predicted for the coming decade … The harm reduction movement needs clear blue water between itself and the alcohol industry.”[35]

In 2014, Rick Lines, the director of the IHRA, which has been known as Harm Reduction International since 2011, contended that the organisation was not involved in alcohol harm reduction any more. Lines argued that: “we have no alcohol-related projects on the go, and haven't been involved in alcohol harm reduction since 2010.”[36]

International Center for Alcohol Policies

In 2014, Stimson was also on the Research Advisory Board of ICAP, [37]

ICAP was a not-for-profit organisation founded by the major producers of alcohol in 1995, Its sponsors in 2014 included: [38]

  • Anheuser-Busch InBev
  • Asahi Breweries
  • Bacardi-Martini
  • Beam Inc.
  • Brown-Forman Corporation
  • Carlsberg
  • Diageo
  • Heineken
  • Kirin Holdings Company, Limited
  • Moët Hennessy
  • Molson Coors
  • Pernod Ricard
  • SABMiller
  • UB Group

ICAP “part of a sophisticated public relations process” by the alcohol industry

ICAP has been criticised in the academic literature. One article in the British Medical Journal in 2007 noted how:

“What the industry fears is any control of the overall level of alcohol consumption. Public health advocates are focusing on strategies aimed at reducing the total consumption of alcohol, and the industry's key aim is to promote overall consumption, albeit responsibly.”
“As part of a sophisticated public relations process the industry has established the International Centre for Alcohol Policy … The industry is determined to shape the public health debate and to protect its interests.” [35]

Another journal article in the American Journal of Public Health in 2012, stated:

“Comparison of ICAP research and policy statements with findings from the WHO and other public health bodies and researchers showed how the industry has simultaneously cast itself as representing public health and ignored key findings of public health research regarding effective approaches to the prevention and reduction of alcohol-related problems.” [39]

ICAP was also criticised for its role in producing science to ensure the alcohol industry’s involvement and influence in alcohol policy debates:

“The ICAP and other alcohol industry organizations continue to argue, advocate, and promote the alcohol industry's involvement in medicine and public health … The ICAP and its alcohol industry sponsors apparently learned from tobacco that industry must be out front in terms of social responsibility, able to foreshadow and pre-empt public health initiatives, as the ICAP has consistently done with its publications and other activities mirroring the work of the WHO. Industry arguments must be “science-based” and clothed in research credentials, as the ICAP has done with its many briefing papers and policy reviews. Rather than direct confrontation with public health, which the ICAP has studiously avoided, partnership is critical.” [39]

The International Alliance For Responsible Drinking (IARD)

In October 2014, ICAP and the Global Alcohol Producers Group (GAPG) announced that the two organisations were merging to create the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD). It was officially launched in 2015.

In the press statement about the merger it was announced that “IARD will work to help reduce harmful drinking and promote responsible drinking through research, programs, and balanced debate around the world.”

The press release also stated that:

“Central to IARD’s mission will be supporting and accelerating implementation of the Beer, Wine and Spirits Producers’ Commitments to Reduce Harmful Drinking []. The organization will promote effective policies and programs, as well as contribute to an informed debate by providing balanced and evidence-based science.” [40]

The release added that provisional board members of the new organization included:

  • Anadolu EFES;
  • AB InBev;
  • Asahi Breweries;
  • Bacardi; Beam Suntory;
  • Brewers Association of Japan;
  • Brown-Forman Corporation;
  • Carlsberg;
  • Constellation;
  • Diageo;
  • Heineken;
  • JSLMA;
  • Kirin;
  • Moët Hennessy;
  • Molson Coors;
  • Pernod Ricard;
  • SABMiller

Toolkits Adapted From “Drinking in Context”

IARD produced a series of Toolkits, including one called “Policy Planning and Choice: Guide to Feasible Interventions”. On the front page it stated that the briefing paper was adapted from Stimson's co-edited book, “Drinking in Context: Patterns, Interventions and Partnerships”. [41]

TobaccoTactics Resources

External Links


  1. Drug Treatment Limited, Jerry Stimson, website, accessed June 2016
  2. Global Forum on Nicotine, GFN 2016 Speakers and Chairs, website, accessed June 2016
  3. Knowledge Action Exchange, Website, accessed March 2016
  4. Nicotine Science Policy, Contact Form, accessed March 2016
  5. Global Forum on Nicotine, website, accessed March 2016
  6. New Nicotine Alliance, Gerry Stimson, Undated, accessed June 2016
  7. New Nicotine Alliance, About Us, Undated, accessed March 2016
  8. 8.0 8.1 , Gerry Stimson, accessed March 2016
  9. Nicotine Science Policy, Gerry Stimson, accessed March 2016
  10. NICE, Tobacco harm reduction - 1st Meeting of the Programme Development Group, Tuesday 18th October 2011, Final Minutes, accessed March 2016
  11. NICE,Tobacco harm-reduction, 5th Meeting of the Programme Development Group, 30 May 2012, Final Minutes, accessed November 2014
  12. NICE, Tobacco harm-reduction 8th Meeting of the Programme Development Group, 5 February 2013, Final Minutes], accessed November 2014
  13. K. E. Farsalinos, G. V. Stimson, “Is there any legal and scientific basis for classifying electronic cigarettes as medications?”, International Journal of Drug Policy , 2014;25: 340–5
  14. L. Williamson, B. Thom, G. V. Stimson et al., Stigma as a public health tool: Implications for health promotion and citizen involvement, International Journal of Drug Policy , 2014;25(3):333–5
  15. G. Stimson, E-cigarettes and the marketing push that surprised everyone, BMJ 2013;347:f5780
  16. D. Adams, T. Axéll, P. Bartsch et al,Reducing the toll of death and disease from tobacco – tobacco harm reduction and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), 26 May 2014
  17. Statement from specialists in nicotine science and public health policy, List of signatories and transparency disclosures, May 2014
  18. S. Lyness, J. McCambridge, The alcohol industry, charities and policy influence in the UK, European Journal of Public Health, 2014, 24(4): 557-61
  19. J. McCambridge, K. Kypri, C. Drummond et al. Alcohol Harm Reduction: Corporate Capture of a Key Concept, PLOS Medicine, 2014, 11(12), doi: 10.1371
  20. 2nd International Conference on Alcohol and Harm Reduction, 2004, accessed December 2014
  21. IHRA, International Harm Reduction Association, 2004, accessed December 2014
  22. Abbreviated Accounts for the Year Ended 31 December 2006 for International Harm Reduction Association
  23. International Harm Reduction Association, Report and Financial Statements for the Year Ended 31 December 2007
  24. International Harm Reduction Association, Report and Financial Statements for the Year Ended 31 December 2008
  25. International Harm Reduction Association, Report and Financial Statements for the Year Ended 31 December 2009
  26. International Harm Reduction Association, Report and Financial Statements for the Year Ended 31 December 2010
  27. IHRA, GAHR-Net- the Global Alcohol Harm Reduction Network, Archived Website July 2008, accessed December 2014
  28. M. Daube, Protesting too much?, PLos Medicine, Doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001767, 11 December 2014
  29. G. Stimson, M. Grant, M. Choquet et al. Drinking in context: patterns, interventions and partnerships. New York: Routledge, 2007
  30. G. Stimson; M. Grant; M. Choquet et al, Drinking in context: patterns, interventions and partnerships, New York: Routledge, 2007
  31. ICAP website, ICAP Website, accessed March 2016
  32. ICAP, Drinking in Context: Patterns, Interventions and Partnerships - Edited by Gerry Stimson, Marcus Grant, Marie Choquet, and Preston Garrison - How did the book come about?, Undated, accessed March 2016
  33. M. Grant, Distortions and Falsehoods, Plos Medicine, 2014: doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001767
  34. R. Caetano, About smoke and mirrors: the alcohol industry and the promotion of science, Addiction, 2008, 103:175–178
  35. 35.0 35.1 M. Farrell, The alcohol industry: taking on the public health critics, British Medical Journal, 2007,335:671
  36. R. Lines, Do your homework, fellas. It's almost 2015!, Plos Medicine, 2014, Doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001767
  37. ICAP Research Advisory Board, accessed March 2016
  38. ICAP, Sponsors, accessed March 2016
  39. 39.0 39.1 D. H. Jernigan, Global Alcohol Producers, Science, and Policy: The Case of the International Center for Alcohol Policies, American Journal of Public Health, 2012,102(1):80–89
  40. ICAP, World’s Leading Producers of Beer, Wine, and Spirits Launch International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD), 15 October, 2014
  41. IARD, Drinking in Context: Patterns, Interventions and Partnerships, 2015, accessed March 2016