Institute of Public Affairs

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The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) is a think tank with a history of opposition to tobacco control. The Institute has also been funded by the tobacco industry, in the past as well as in the present.

An internal document from British American Tobacco in 1993, for instance, notes that the Australian arm of the company "contributes financially to prominent think tanks such as the Institute for Public Affairs".[1]

Still Funded by Big Tobacco

In April 2002, the IPA's Don D'Cruz wrote an article for The Australian newspaper’s opinion page which disclosed that the Institute "receives support from tobacco companies".[2]

On May 31st 2012, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that British American Tobacco (BAT) is funding the IPA. The report states that Scott McIntyre, spokesman for BAT revealed this fact.[3][4] Neither BAT or the IPA responded to requests for comment on the day that the Herald article was published. In January 2012 John Roskam the Executive Director of the IPA was interviewed by The Power Index. When asked about the IPA's sources of funding, Roskam said that they keep their funders' identities secret because IPA supporters have been intimidated:

Anyone who gives us money can say they give us money, but the reason we don't reveal who our donors are is because they have been intimidated.
There is nothing that we have ever done that we have done because someone has paid us to change our opinion.[5]

Challenges to Tobacco Control

Second-hand Smoke

An article in the Weekend Australian[6] details how the Institute hosted John Luik on a 1996 speaking tour. It said:

The National Heart Foundation sponsored an Australian speaking tour by Professor Stan Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California – the industry's number one enemy. But he arrived to discover somebody had tasted his porridge and sat in his chair... John Luik had criss-crossed the country before him describing the campaign against passive smoking as a "dangerous mix of science and propaganda". John Luik's visit was hosted by the Institute for Public Affairs.

Plain Packaging

On the day the Australian Government announced its new plain packaging policies, the IPA’s Tim Wilson took part in several national and local broadcast interviews. He said that the new law violated tobacco companies' intellectual property rights, an argument that the industry publicises (see Australia: Trademark Claims). Talking on ABC Radio 612 Brisbane’s Mornings with Stacy Milner programme, Wilson said that "under the constitution and Australia's international obligation" the government may have to pay "compensation up to $3 billion a year to tobacco companies”.[7]

Wilson made similar points about trademarks, intellectual property and compensation in a submission to the Australian Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee inquiry into plain packaging. He wrote:[8] "With annual retail sales for... tobacco products at $10 billion per annum it is possible that the removal of trademarks would result in taxpayers being required to contribute hundreds of millions of dollars, and potentially billions". The submission contained no information about the Institute taking funds from the tobacco industry. When explicitly asked in 2010, the IPA refused to say if it was still accepting industry money. ABC’s Media Watch program commented that the IPA’s “ubiquitous spruiking (sic) about cigarette packaging was… a marriage made in media heaven.” [7]

TobaccoTactics Resources


  1. BAT Public Affairs Department, Public affairs review 1993 - Far East, 1993, accessed 8 June 2011
  2. Don D'Cruz, 'Give smokers some respect', The Australian, 15 April 2002, accessed 7 June 2011
  3. Jonathan Swan, Institute opposing plain packaging funded by tobacco company The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 May 2012, accessed 31 May 2012
  4. Tom Cowie, Follow the Power: IPA research 'funded by Big Tobacco', 31 May 2012, accessed 31 May 2012
  5. Tom Cowie, Thinkers, no.9: John Roskam The Power Index: Who really runs Australia?, 24 January 2012, accessed 31 May 2012
  6. Kate Legge, 'Passive aggression: the showdown on smoking in public places', Weekend Australian, 17 August 1996, accessed 8 June 2011
  7. 7.0 7.1 Mediawatch: Smoking Out The Spin, ABC, 10 May 2010, accessed 7 June 2011
  8. Tim Wilson, Governing in ignorance: Australian governments legislating, without understanding, intellectual property, Institute of Public Affairs, May 2010, accessed 8 June 2011