This site deals only with the corporate corruption of science, and makes no inference about the motives or activities of individuals involved.
There are many reasons why individuals become embroiled in corporate corruption activities - from political zealotry to over-enthusiastic activism; from gullibility to greed.
Please read the OVERVIEW carefully, and make up your own mind.
John L Dobra
— A minor member of the cash-for-comments network who, however, ran a major study on casino smoking for the tobacco industry. He was an economist from the University of Nevada at Reno. —
Dobra was a servant of the tobacco industry for a couple of decades, although he didn't produce much via Savarese's economists network services for the Tobacco Institute. He did, however work closely with Philip Morris and its mafia casino connections to prepare a doomsaying report claiming that smoking bans would devastate the Nevada economy.
Professor John Dobra of the University of Nevada was one of the more useful academic economists providing services to the tobacco industry.
He worked briefly for the cash-for-comments network of the Tobacco Institute, but his main impact was with Philip Morris and its coalition partner, the American Gaming Association — run by ex mob-lawyer and Republican stalwart, Frank Fahrenkopf.
The cash-for-comments economists network was set up by Professor Robert Tollison with lobbyist and consultant to the Tobacco Institute, James Savarese. It's purpose was to provide propaganda and lobbying services to the tobacco industry in all 50 US States, utilizing trusted and prominent academics at the local universities. It was:
The principle organisers included the:
- Funded and controlled by the Tobacco Institute.
- Organised and influenced by the Center for the Study of Public Choice at George Mason University, and the Public Choice Society (neo-con economists).
- Operated on a day-to-day basis through Ogilvy & Mather, and then by James Savarese & Associates a lobby firm based in Washington.
It employed only Professors of economics at well-known State universities, and secretly commissioned them to:
- Tobacco Institute staff — Peter Sparber, Susan Stuntz, Carol Hyrcaj, Fred Panzer, Jeff Ross and Calvin George.
- Economist organizers — Robert Tollison, William Shughart, Dwight Lee, Richard Wagner, Gary Anderson, Robert Ekelund, Henry Butler
- Organizers from the GMU Center — Anna Tollison (wife of Robert), Elizabeth Masaitis, Carol Robert
- Organizers from Savarese & Assoc. — Jim Savarese, Leslie Dalton, Kelleigh Varnum
- Organisers from Ogilvy & Mather— Richard Marcus, Marcia Silverman, Patricia Milita
If they could claim to be a disinterested 'non-smoker' or even 'anti-smoking' — and " just a concerned citizen" expressing an expert academic opinion — this was seen as further enhancing their value in promoting the industry's positions and policies.
- Write op-ed articles for their local newspapers (after they had first been sub-edited and legally cleared by the Tobacco Institute). This earned them $2—3,000.
- Appear as 'independent' witnesses at local ordinance hearings, or at State or Federal legislative hearings.
- Make public statements to the broadcast or print media, or write letters to the editor supporting the tobacco industry's position [but concealing their connections]
- Make submissions to academic/scientific conferences. This could earn them $5,000.
- Write letters to their Congressmen; these letters had often been rough-drafted by the tobacco industry.
Some payments were laundered through Savarese & Associates, and some seem to have passed through the Center for the Study of Public Choice. Other means of hiding the sources of payment were probably via tobacco industry lawyers.
For an indepth study of John Dobra's complicity with the tobacco industry and the casino and bar operators, see Swimming Upstream: Tobacco Policy Making in Nevada Gregory Tung and Stanton A
Glantz at the University of California, San Francisco
Some key documents
• Professor of Economics, University of Nevada, Reno
1980: PhD and working with Robert Tollison at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute
1987: the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began a process of regulatory action on workplace smoking, in responce to the call of three public interest groups for emergency action on ETS in the workplace. They published a draft rule in April 1994
1990 Aug 29: Robert Tollison is sending "ETS Comments" from the Center for Study of Public Choice along to the Indoor Air Division of the EPA, in reaction to its public review draft of "ETS: A Guide to Workplace Smoking Policies."
Without any admission or indication that these comments are being paid for by the tobacco industry, he sets out many pages of economic argument against workplace smoking bans. The majority of the studies referenced in this document are written by cash-for-comments network economists.
1991 Jan: /E Tobacco Institute draft plan for 1991 with emphasis on "Taxes." These are the economist-related paragraphs:
To discourage reliance on consumer excise taxes on cigarettes to meet social and economic objectives by demonstrating that excise taxes are regressive and inconsistent with fair taxation.
Goals and Tactics:
- Commission two op-ed articles in 1991 from consulting economists. As articles are published, provide to other Institute decisions for promotion and submission to appropriate policy makers.
- Conduct at least 10 presentations by consulting economists on the excise tax issue before national, regional and state tax policy conferences.
- Continue to utilize consulting economists for testimony and briefings. Expand appearances to include presentations to business clubs and the business press. Conduct media refresher courses for public speaking appearance and delivery of testimony.
- Utilize the consulting economists for an op-ed program that addresses the national earmarking issue and state specific earmarking issues. As articles are published, provide to other Institute divisions and promote to appropriate public policymakers. Use field staff network to support distribution efforts.
1991 Jan 8: Savarese has sent the current list of network economists to Carol Hyrcaj at the Tobacco Institute. It contains three new names, but otherwise is essentially the same as the old lists.
- ALABAMA, Robert B. Ekelund, Jr., Auburn University
- ARIZONA, William J. Boyes, Arizona State University
- ARKANSAS, David E. R. Gay, University of Arkansas
- CALIFORNIA, Gary Anderson, California State at Northridge
Roger Arnold, California State Univ. - San Marcos
- COLORADO, Barry Poulson, University of Colorado
- CONNECTICUT, Dominick Armentano, University of Hartford
- DELAWARE, Burton Abrams, University of Delaware
- FLORIDA, Bruce Benson, Florida State University
- GEORGIA, Dwight R. Lee, University of Georgia
- IDAHO, Allan Dalton, Boise State University
- ILLINOIS, James Heins, University of Illinois
- INDIANA, Cecil Bohanon, Ball state University
- IOWA, Todd Sandler, Iowa State University
- KANSAS, Michael Babcock, Kansas State University
- KENTUCKY, Brian Goff, Western Kentucky University
- LOUISIANA, Michael Kurth, McNeese State University
- MAINE, Robert McMahon, University of Southern Maine
- MASSACHUSETTS, David Tuerck, Suffolk University
- MISSISSIPPI, Bill Shughart, University of Mississippi
- MISSOURI, Joe A Bell, Southwest Missouri State University
Thomas I. Wyrick, Southwest Missouri State University
- MONTANA, Terry L. Anderson, Montana State University
- NEBRASKA, Dee Martin, University of Nebraska
- NEVADA, John Dobra, University of Nevada, Reno
- NEW HAMPSHIRE, Dennis Logue, Dartmouth College
- NEW MEXICO, Allen Parkman, University of New Mexico
- NORTH DAKOTA, Cliff Dobitz, North Dakota State University
- OHIO, Richard Vedder, Ohio University
- OKLAHOMA, Joseph Jadlow, Oklahoma State University
- OREGON, William Mitchell, University of Oregon
- PENNSYLVANIA, Ann Harper-Fender, Gettysburg College
- RHODE ISLAND, Arthur Mead, Universityof Rhode Island
- SOUTH CAROLINA, Ryan Aiaacher, Clemson University
- SOUTH BikEOTA, Dennis lain, Augustana College
- TENNESSEE, JR Clark, The University of Tennessee at Martin
- TEXAS, S Charles Maurice, Texas ASM University
Michael Davis, Southern Methodist University
- VIRGINIA, Richard B Wagner, George Mason University
- WASHINGTON, Richard D. Zerbe, Jr., University of Washington
1992: Dobra also founded, and took the position of Director of National Resources Industry Institute [aka National Resources Institute], which is a private think-tank that appears to be housed at the Nevada University.
1994 Apr: The OSHA published its draft rule on workplace smoking.
1995 Nov: The University of Nevada, Las Vegas sponsored a day-long seminar on Indoor Air Quality in casinos — directed at employee and patron complaints about ETS. This was seen as part of a 'grassroots' campaign, mainly by casino maintenance staff.
1995 Dec: /E Wayne E Mehl, a Government Relations Consultant working for the newly created American Gaming Association [being established in Washington DC], wrote a report: "The Impracticality of Current Regultory and legislative initiatives to improve IAQ, and their impact on the Nevada casino resort industry."
This copy finds its way into Philip Morris's file on the American Gaming Association.
1995 Dec 8: Wayne Mehl, a Washington DC lobbyist employed by the Nevada Resort Association, is quoted by Associated Press as attacking the OSHA proposals.
Casino owners feel strongly that the [OSHA] regulations as they were proposed are totally unworkable and unfixable,'
To ban smoking entirely in casinos is just a bad solution. That would definitely have an impact on casinos.'
[RJ Reynolds was preparing this report for the American Gaming Association]
1996 Feb 8: Rob Meyne of RJ Reynolds is working with the new American Gaming Association. His weekly report says that:
- The Las Vegas Restaurant Association has helped us identify and secure a test location. Mirage properties have recommended we use one of their locations, Treasure Island, for the casino test. Everything appears to be moving ahead, and testing should take place in mid-March.
- A meeting is scheduled to take place February 20 with Public Affairs and Frank Fahrenkopf the director of the American Gaming Association, and is a former national chairman of the Republican Party. The purpose of the meeting is to solicit Fahrenkopf's advice on how to put together a seminar and training program on Indoor Air Quality for casino operators.
- We have come to an agreement with the incoming president of the National Restaurant Association, Biff Naylor, to work together on the international front.
1996 Mar 6: , RJ Reynolds director of public policy, Robert Meyne, wrote to American Gaming Association (AGA) president Frank Fahrenkopf:
"RJ Reynolds and the American Gaming Association have a common interest in this issue.... RJ Reynolds is prepared to offer any assistance we can to you, your board, and members."
Enclosed are two items I hope will be useful as you prepare for your next board meeting.
The first is a brief overview of the issue: what would the OSHA rule do to casinos, what options exist short of total smoking bans, and more. The other is a more detailed overview of the issue prepared, at my request, by Dennis Lauchner's staff at Consolidated Safety Services, Inc.
1996 Mar 6: The detailed overview prepared at the request of RJR by Consolidated Safety Services Inc, the ventilation company headed by Jolanda ['Jola'] Janczewski.
[This company was second only to Gray Robertson's ACVA/HBI operation in supporting tobacco industry claims which exonerated ETS from workplace air pollution.]
The report has been prepared by CSS's Dennis Lauchner as a proposal to the American Gaming Association.
"Addressing Indoor Air Quality and Smoking Bans in the Gaming Industry". Consolidated propose that the AGA needed a...
More recently, the battle has turned to the gaming industry where attention has been focused on what is perceived to be a unique smoke-filled environment.
For example, in November, 1995 UNLV [Uni of Nevada, Las Vegas] sponsored a workshop on IAQ to address what they believed to be the increased employee and patron complaints about IAQ problems in casinos, particularly those caused by ETS. The day-long seminar, though characterized by the organizers as targeting IAQ in general, primarily targeted ETS, concluding that smoking bans are the most obvious and only remediative answer to this issue.
Though attendees of the conference were generally representative of casino maintenance staff, a host of misrepresented facts provided at the conference gained a life of their own and reappeared in the professional trade press and mainstream media reaching higher level decision-making professionals.
Such effective grassroots campaigns are appearing more frequently and presenting the gaming industry with a problem which needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
'...well planned, systematic approach to providing decisionmakers with consistent, accurate information upon which to base decisions and fight against a ground swell of opposing views and legislative activities.
The paper then promotes CSS's reputation for devious activities, in ordder to establish the company credentials for this role.
Well placed seminars should target increasing awareness of clean air devices as the most sound and cost-effective solution to indoor air problems, critical review of all alternative remediative strategies and a discussion of facts and myths about liability and compensation.
These seminars should be supported by an active media relations campaign to ensure that critical information reaches public and professional forums and outweighs that of the recent 1995 UNLV seminar.
Aside from public relations services, our Public Affairs Division manages numerous industry coalitions and association. Of particular interest to the gaming industry is our establishment and management of the Clean Air Device Manufacturers Association, an organization representing manufacturers of recirculating air filtration devices currently installed in, or recommended for the gaming environment
1996 June 16:
At this time RJ Reynolds appears to have passed the Nevada project over to Philip Morris and PR company Burson Marsteller.
1996 June 17: Burson Marsteller advises Ted Latazino (who runs the Worldwide Regulatory Affairs [WRA] division of Philip Morris) on the "Nevada Budget" which is being organised through the McMullen Strategic Group which has the necessary Nevada connections.
I have asked McMullen to get the Professor (John Dobra of UNV, Reno) to outline briefly the parameters of the study. I have yet to receive this.
[The fees and Burson Marsteller's cut of the project were all redacted as "Trade Secret Information"]
Sam gave me these numbers with this caveat:
"Project bid on spec, of 2 months delivery time. If circumstances necessitate more time, amount of additional monthly retainer will be agreed to by client & TMSG" (The McMullen Strategic Group). This seems reasonable to me.
1996 Jul 18: The chairman of the Tobacco Institute's Communications Group, a committee formed to deal with the OSHA "problem," wrote:
Project proposals for the states of Arizona and Nevada have been approved and efforts are beginning to lay the groundwork for the media outreach.
"We have reached an agreement in principle with Dr John Dobra of the University of Nevada to conduct a separate survey of the gaming industry. Efforts are underway to identify an appropriate sponsor for this survey."
[In other words, they were trying to find someone or some organization willing to put their name on the study as 'sponsor' to hide the tobacco industry's involvement]
1996 Jul 26: The Philip Morris Communications team working on OSHA smoking bans has a draft report outlining the activites being conducted in a number of states. Burson-Marsteller is organizing media tours for Pat Tyson (National Licensed Beverage Association — NLBA) and others.
The Reno-Sparks County Chamber of Commerce has agreed to sponsor an economic survey by Dr John Dobra of Nevada gaming interests. Contract details are being worked out, but Dobra has begun his necessary research. [They mean by 'sponsor', 'provide the front' and launder the payments.]
[Philip Morris doesn't appear to have advised the Tobacco Institute that they were borrowing their cash-for-comment network economic consultant here.]
1996 Aug 1: A second Communications Group document reported that a way had been found to conceal tobacco industry involvement:
"The Reno Sparks County [sic] Chamber of Commerce has agreed to sponsor the economic study of the gaming industry by Dr John Dobra. The preliminary work necessary for that study is under way"
A later report on this explained:
[This was John Dunham who had just joined Josh Slavitt's group as Fiscal Issues Manager — which was a new manipulator position involved in Washington lobbying activities.]
Meyne wrote of his efforts to "coordinate participation of RJR staff and consultants in planning and conducting a seminar to demonstrate how casino operators can effectively address issues related to ETS [environmental tobacco smoke] without losing business."
And an internal Phillip Morris email message said that a Phillip Morris house economist "spent many hours working with Dr John Dobra in Nevada to make sure that the economic study showing the impact of smoking bans on the state's gaming interests would be beyond reproach."
1996 Aug 16: Another OSHA Communications report
Work on the economic study for Nevada is progressing under Dr John Dobra. Data is currently being collected and analyzed.
[Dunham also worked with Dobra]
The National Licensed Beverage Association has agreed to sponsor the
national economic survey of bar and restaurant owners. A meeting will be
scheduled early next week with NLBA director Debbie Leach to go over the
questionnaire with Harry O'Neill of the Roper organization. John Dunham
is coordinating the survey activity
|Additional Related Documents|
|Survey of Restaurants and Bars/Taverns for the Tobacco Institute (supposedly for the National Licensed Beverage Association) lists potential speakers as |
• Dr John Dobra, Professor of Economics at the University of Nevada, and Reno Director of the Natural Resource Institute
- Survey questionairre for restaurants, bars, etc.
- Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce press release
- Outline of surveys and their results.
1996 Oct: John Hoel of Philip Morris has developed a plan for promoting John Dobra's study, along with one by the NCLB. They plan to con Congressmen Trent Lott, Bernie Thompson and Thad Cochran — as well as the Democratic candidates and other Congressmen from the gambling states.
See Phase 1
1996 Dec 4: Dobra's study on the economic cost of smoking bans in casinos was released at a gambling conference in Las Vegas amid careful preparations to keep the tobacco industry's funding for the study hidden. The conference also involved the local Restaurant and Bar Owners Association.
Dobra was introduced by Mark Smith, the President and General Manager of the Chamber who maintained the fiction that his organization had paid for the report.
We contacted Professor John Dobra, who has extensive experience doing economic feasibility studies for the mining industry in Nevada. As you will see, the study confirms—at numbers even higher than we thought—that Nevada stands to lose tremendously under this proposed regulation.
Professor Dobra will be speaking to his research and methodology and the study's findings are in the press kits we have supplied. But let me tell you what looked important to us as we reviewed the findings.
If this regulation is enacted, Nevada's economy could lose between $1.9 billion and $3.5 billion in the next five years. The state could stand to lose between 20,000 and 30,000 jobs in the first year alone— and nearly 50,000 jobs after five years of implementation.
Dobra duely made his own speech claiming that the economy of Nevada was likely to be devastated and the world was about to collapse.
[This document also includes many generated newspaper clippings proving the success of Dobra's academic duplicity, and demonstrating the lack of curiousity or cyncism among members of the Nevada media.]
A copy supplied to Associated Press resulted in a story that was carried by many news outlets and set the tone for much subsequent coverage:
"The study, conducted by John Dobra, an associate economics professor at the University of Nevada, Reno and director of the Natural Resource Industry Institute, was commissioned by the Reno and Las Vegas chambers of commerce to analyze the impacts of regulations being considered by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration."
The announcement of the study, organized by local tobacco and health care lobbyist Sam McMullen, came off without a hitch. There were no headlines like "Tobacco-funded study says..." to contaminate Dobra's assertions, or fully inform the public.
The newpaper and broadcast stories all treated the Dobra assessment as apocalyptic
- a smoking ban would "put the gaming industry on the critical list." [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
- "Smoking ban would smother Nevada economy, study says" was the headline in Press of Atlantic City.
- The Las Vegas Sun used the term "cripple"
- the Associated Press used "devastate" (which, for some reason, was changed to "decimate" in the Sparks Tribune).
- The Review-Journal ran an editorial citing the Dobra study as evidence that a smoking ban "would essentially throw the state into recession."
The language was so extreme that Gov. Robert Miller spoke out: "There is no need to immediately push the panic button."
|Later UCSF analysis of the Dobra Study|
|Stan Glantz paper: |
PM [Philip Morris] worked to convince the gambling industry that OSHA's proposed rule would negatively affect them (and Nevada as a whole) by arranging for an "economic impact report".
The report, "Economic impacts of the proposed OSHA smoking ban on the state of Nevada" by Professor John L Dobra of the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Nevada-Reno, concluded that Nevada would lose 20,000 to 30,000 jobs, that overall economic activity would fall as much as $2.15 billion, and that state and local government would lose $95 million within one year of implementing OSHA's proposed workplace smoking regulation.
The report was publicly released by the Greater-Reno Sparks and Las Vegas Chambers of Commerce in December 1996, who were identified as the sponsors. There was no mention of Philip Morris. In fact, PM conceived of and organised the study with the goal of finding a third party sponsor to hide its involvement.
By 18 July 1996, PM had reached an agreement with Dobra to prepare the report; at the same time PM staff noted that "efforts are under way to identify an appropriate sponsor for this survey". Two weeks later, on 1 August 1996 a PM OSHA communications report recorded that the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce had agreed to sponsor the study and that work on the survey was already underway.
In addition, an internal PM email to the PM OSHA communications team noted that a PM economist "spent many hours working with Dr John Dobra in Nevada to make sure that the economic study showing the impact of smoking bans on the state's gaming interests would be beyond reproach".
See UCSF paper with hot-links to these documents.
1996 Dec 20: John Sorrells who headed the Philip Morris "OSHA Communications Team" summed up the "Phase 1" successes for the previous year:
- All project activities were designed with the objective of generating renewed public interest in and focus on the pending OSHA ETS regulation. [workplace smoking bans]
- An integral component in the effort to enlist hospitality industry support was the development of a national economic opinion survey and several state surveys of bar and restaurant owners to gauge the potential adverse impact a smoking ban would have.
- Throughout the year, the campaign was run on several separate tracks: [including] assisting the National Licensed Beverage Association. Burson-Marsteller helped co-ordinate Pat Tyson's activities, worked with NLBA to conduct two Washington press events.
- John [Dunham] also spent many hours working with Dr John Dobra in Nevada to make sure that the economic study showing the impact of smoking bans on the state's gaming interests would be beyond reproach.
[Obviously Dobra needed the help of a tobacco industry employee to get his study to come out the way his sponsors planned.]
1997: Philip Morris's plans for the American Hospitality industry include:
Explore support for the University of Nevada and the International Gaming Institute
- Sponsor a laboratory to evaluate technologies
- Help develop a curriculum for property managers.
- Help the Institute be a showcase
- Evaluate opportunity to facilitate installation of technologies at ITT Sheraton/ Planet Hollywood
- Explore an accommodation program for the gaming industry with the American Gaming Association
['Accommodation' here refers to a formal smoking-courtesy program developed by Philip Morris to try to counter smoking bans in restaurants.]
1997 Jan 7: Correspondence among executives within PM Worldwide Regulatory Affairs (WRA) group indicated that they had received a letter from Samuel McMullen, PM's lobbyist in Nevada [The correspondence indicated some confusion about payment procedures, due to personnel changes — they give no actual dates of the original correspondence.]
McMullen was requesting $25 000 from PM made payable to McMullen Strategic Group for the study. They had written:
Dear Mr. Lattanzio,
"I have received requests from the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce for funding a study on the economic impact a proposed federal workplace smoking ban would have on Nevada.
I am writing to you to request an unrestricted research grant for $25,000 made payable to the McMullen Strategic Group for purposes of helping fund this study."
Interestingly, there is no date on the letter, and stapled to it is another letter with exactly the same wording as above, but this attached letter has one other paragraph which reads:
"The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce have both been active in opposition of the proposed workplace ban and are interested to see if they are accurately representing their members on this important issue.
This letter is not dated either.
The bulk of the funds will be directed to a University of Nevada Professor, who is conducting the study, with a smaller amount set aside to be used to publicize the results."
1998 Feb: Philip Morris also commissioned N Keith Womer and William Chappel, both of the University of Mississippi to conduct a similar survey to Dobra's on the "Economic Consequences of Banning Smoking in Casinos in the State of Mississippi". Their draft report has been rewritten by a couple of PR executives in Philip Morris.
They draw on John Dobra's report for Nevada to calculate their dubious figures.
2009: Nevada's Casino Workers Face Serious Health Risks
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released a report in 2009 showing workers in Las Vegas casinos are exposed to dangerous levels of secondhand smoke at work. The NIOSH report recommends making casinos 100% smokefree to ensure indoor air within casinos is safe for workers to breathe.
NIOSH conducted indoor air quality tests and biomarker assessments on 124 card dealers in Bally's, Caesars Palace, and Paris casinos on the Las Vegas strip. Researchers found secondhand smoke components in the air including nicotine, 4-vinyl pyridine, solanesol, benzene, toluene, p-dichlorormethane, and formaldehyde. Researchers also conducted urinary testing of workers during and after their shifts which indicated cancer causing toxins in secondhand smoke were absorbed into workers’ bodies.
A poll conducted in 2009 found that 72% of Nevada voters support the smokefree state law. During the 2009 legislative session, legislators passed a law to exempt convention centers from the smokefree law. Supporters from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, with support from the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, filed a lawsuit to challenge that exemption in late 2009 and that challenge remains underway.
2011 Aug: A new book coming out this month, called Casino Women, has sparked a debate in Nevada. As discussed in recent article on newsreview.com, a portion of the book discusses a 1996 study on casino smoking that sought to analyze the impacts of regulations being considered by the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, with findings favorable to the tobacco industry. The study, posed as being supported by the Reno and Las Vegas chambers of commerce, is revealed in this book to have been funded by the tobacco industry.
The pro-smoking results of the study, determined by economist John Dobra, found that limiting or banning smoking in casinos would cause significant economic harm to gambling corporations of up to 3.5 billion dollars and 30,000 jobs. The findings were released to the public, not disclosing the important detail that it was a tobacco-funded study.
2011 Aug 11: Dennis Myres published "Smoke and mirrors: Big Tobacco and big casino sold Nevadans a bill of goods" which exposed the activities of Professor Dobra at a local level.
A new book charges that chambers of commerce in Washoe and Clark counties agreed in 1996 to serve as front groups for an influential University of Nevada, Reno study that was actually paid for by the tobacco industry.
The study, on the economic impact of no-smoking policies on the state's casino industry, was cited repeatedly in subsequent years as justification for inaction by the Legislature and for casinos subjecting their workers to workplace toxins.
The study at issue was done by economist John Dobra at a time when federal officials were looking at workplace limits on smoking. In the study, Dobra contended that banning smoking from Nevada casinos would cause significant economic harm to gambling corporations, including the loss of between $1.9 billion and $3.5 billion and from 20,000 to 30,000 jobs.
"In a state which depends on sales and gaming taxes for 75 percent of its general fund revenues, the effects of a workplace smoking ban are gargantuan," Dobra wrote. He predicted that governments in the state could lose as much as $95 million within a year of a smoking ban.
Dobra's study was released on Dec. 4, 1996, at a gambling conference in Las Vegas amid careful preparations to keep the tobacco industry's funding for the study hidden. A copy supplied to Associated Press resulted in a story that was carried by many news outlets and set the tone for much subsequent coverage:
Brian Herr, then head of the Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce who served as spokesperson when the Dobra study was released, said last week that he does not recall whether he knew that it was funded by the tobacco industry.
"I don't really remember the details about that study. … I really don't remember that."
[If he was "used" he was also well-paid for the effort.]
Dobra, who told the authors of Casino Woman that he felt used and would not have done the study if he had known all the facts, was more defiant last week, saying it doesn't matter who paid.
"It still wouldn't change anything. … You can dissect all this stuff lots of different ways, and it still ends up, you know, so many people leaving the casino floor for so many minutes per hour will lead to however much loss of casino revenue," Dobra said.
Dobra is a prominent economist in Nevada, though he is better known for analyses of mining economics. He and a colleague once did a study on the impact of fewer corporate-friendly federal mining laws on the corporations operating in Nevada. He told the two authors he did not learn of the tobacco funding for his casino study until a decade later.
2012: CorporationWiki also shows that John Dobra us now the President of Nevada Econometrics.
2012: The University of Nevada, Reno runs a "Judicial Studies Degree Program" for the 'Career Education of Judges'" under Justice James Duke Cameron, Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court from 1975-79
Guess who has a position on the JSP Program Faculty ?
• John Dobra, Economics and Director, National Resources Industry Institute, University of Nevada, Reno
2012 Oct 12: John Dobra, associate professor of economics at the University of Nevada, Reno College of Business, has been named the newest senior fellow of the Fraser Institute, Canada's leading public policy think-tank.
[The Frazer Institute was the tobacco industry's favourite think-tank in Canada (alongside the Niagra Institute). It was used by the tobacco companies as a place to park their favourite 'scholars' when they couldn't buy them a university professorship, or reward them in some other way.
It is part of the ultra-libertarian, corporation-funded Atlas Group of network, and the Economic Freedom of the World project. It is virtually the Canadian version of the Koch brothers CATO Institute in Washington.]