Saturday, 13 June 2020

How the Tobacco Institute recruited over 100 American economics professors. Part 31 - Robert D. Tollison writes pro-tobacco books

Overview of previous posts here

Robert Tollison writes several books

The Tobacco Institute did not just want the economists to produce op-eds, the industry wanted the attack on excise taxes to have some, even only superficial, 'real' academic credibility. One of the early tactics of the tobacco industry was to publish the book "Smoking and Society", but this was not the only book Robert D. Tollison wrote/edited on the topic:
  • 1986 Robert D. Tollison (ed), Smoking and society: toward a more balanced assessment, Lexington Books, Lexington, Massachussetts
  • 1988 Robert D. Tollison (ed), Clearing the air: perspectives on environmental tobacco smoke, Lexington Books, Lexington, Massachussetts
  • 1988 Robert D. Tollison, Richard E. Wagner, Smoking and the state: social costs, rent seeking, and public policy, Lexington Books, Lexington, Massachussetts
  • 1989 Richard E. Wagner and Robert Tollison, Charging Beneficiaries for Public Services: User Charges and Earmarked Taxes in Principle and Practice
  • 1991 Robert D. Tollison, Richard E. Wagner; The Economics of Smoking, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht

Smoking and society (1986)

This passage in the 1983 Presentation on social costs/social values to INFOTAB board of directors meeting October 31, is interesting as it provides an overview of the research done by the industry in the period 1979-1984



The documents leaves no doubt Tollison's 1985 book "Smoking and Society: Toward a More Balanced Assessment" was ordered by the tobacco industry. The preface of the book acknowledges this, though not completely:

Tobacco industry sociological programs to influence public beliefs about smoking

While at least they did not hide the involvement of the industry, the book was not a spontaneous result of a 1984 workshop, but arose from a decision made by the Tobacco Institute no later than 1983. Moreover it did not name the funding organizations. The reason the industry needed scholars is clear: media-credibility

Even though written by academics, the industry dictated the topics the book had to cover, and who had to be the editor

The Tobacco Institute paid $70.000 for the book, meaning INFOTAB must have paid another $70.000. A document from 1989, three years after publication, illustrates the industry was pleased with the output:

Samuel D. Chilcote Jr.

It seems the tobacco industry was happy paying $140,000 to publish a book printed in only 1500 copies. The target was not public readers, but the creation of material the field lobbyists could use.

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