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 Douglas Jackson
— An academic economist who supplemented his income writing pro-smoking newpaper opinion pieces for the tobacco industry. —
Professor John D Jackson was a substantial cog in an extensive wheel of conspiracy organised by lobbyist James Savarese and Professor Robert Tollison of George Mason University (GMU) on behalf of the tobacco industry. He was part of a sub-network organized by Robert Ekelund at Auburn University.
This surreptitious network of compliant economists operated by using the facilities and staff of GMU's Center for the Study of Policy Choice [supposedly an independent study center within the university]. It extensively utilized the Center's membership list of extreme-libertarian professors of economics — most of whom were members of the 'Austro-Libertarian/Randian' tradition; belong to the Public Choice Society; and had tenured positions at various State universities.
These ultra-free-market professors were contracted on a pay-for-service basis to react to requests circulated by the tobacco industry for help in defeating either excise tax measures or smoking ordinances.
They were especially required to expoit the public trust inherent in their academic status — almost always a Professor at their local university — and not to reveal that the tobacco industry paid them for services rendered. In fact, many were encouraged to say they were 'non-smokers' — and use this claim to enhanse their credibility.
They were paid ($300 to $1000 per time) to:
The propaganda they generated rarely had cigarettes or tobacco at its center — the messages were more obtuse and often cloaked in academic obfuscation. However it always had had a number of focusses important to promoting cigarettes:
- Write op-ed articles for their main local newspapers. [chosen by the tobacco industry]
- Write to their local Senators and Representatives. [designated by the tobacco industry]
- Appear at local ordinance hearings and object to potential passive smoking bans.
- Appear before local Assemblies or at Congressional hearings.
- Lecture at economic meetings or conferences
- Occasionally appear on broadcast or print media.
For each network project, an op-ed article or report would be sent by the Professor, through James Savarese to the Tobacco Institute for their lawyers and PR people to check, correct and "improve" it. The doctored article was then returned to the Professor for transmission to the designated newspaper. Clippings, and copies of letters to Congressmen, were then returned to the Tobacco Institute as "proof of service rendered."
- Excise taxes were harmful to all American workers and businesses.
- Excise taxes especially impacted the low-paid because of its 'regressive nature'. [They paid proportionally more disposable income to satisfy their nicotine addiction.]
- Smoking bans of any kind were an infringement on Constitutional liberties — and once the government banned smoking, they would move to ban other personal pleasures.
- Like any business, the tobacco industry had the Constitutional right to advertise its lethal products.
- Personal freedom of choice was paramount. Smokers — including those addicted — were free to choose whether to smoke or not to smoke cigarettes.
While the members of this network were ideologically aligned to ultra-free-market economics, they were also knowingly part of a conspiracy to promote corporate-funded ideas without acknowlegement of the funding source. This was a conspiratorial deception perpetrated by a trusted academic on the citizens who ultimately paid his/her salary.
The particpants were involved for no other reason than personal greed. And they were recruited despite knowing that the ultimate consequence of their actions was to promote an industry which resulted in the premature deaths and debilitation of millions of people around the world.
It is difficult to know how effective this operation was, but the Tobacco Institute supported this group of 50 to 100 Professors of Economics for a couple of decades, so they obviously felt they were getting value for money. Over the years new members joined and others left the group — but generally Savarese and Tollison recruited one or two economists for each State.
The Professors themselves, of course, justified and rationalised taking money from the tobacco institute on 'ideological grounds' — and never questioned the fact that they were exploiting and undermining the reputation of academics in general, or the indepenent standing of their own university by acting as secret lobbyists for the tobacco industry.
There is also a political economist, John E Jackson of the University of Michigan who figures in the 1989 tobacco files.
Some key documents
• Professor of Economics at Auburn University, Alabama. He was one of Robert Ekelund's most useful collaborators.
• His C/V as sent to the Tobacco Institute
1946 June 14: Born Troy, Alabama
1971: MA in Economics, University of Texas at Arlington
1977: PhD in Economics from Claremont Graduate School, CA
1978 Jun: to June 1980 Assistant Professor, Auburn University,
1980 June: to June 1981 Assistant Professor, Old Dominion
1981 Jul: to July, 1984 Assistant Professor, Louisiana Tech University
1984 Sept: joined Auburn University as Associate Professor
1984 Sep: Associate Professor, Auburn University, working under Robert Ekelund.
1985 /E: A number of articles have been collected by the Tobacco Institute into a research-data package labeled "Robert Ekelund's critique of the Chetwynd Study" They are all dated before mid 1981
[See archive search for many more.]
- Standardisation of Epidemiology [pulmonary function tests]
- Early ETS paper by JR White
- Papers by (and on) White-Froeb'a ETS effect on physical fitness.
- Industry attacks on White-Froeb Study
- TI Response to Hiriyama ETS study
This tobacco funded study was finally published by the British Journal of Addiction in November 1989 as "The Influence of Advertising on Tobacco Consumption: some problems with Chetwynd et al.'s analysis" by John D Jackson, Robert B.Ekelund Jr
In a recent study of the relationship between cigarette advertising and the aggregate consumption of cigarettes in New Zealand between 1973 and 1985, Chetwynd et al. (1988) argue that quarterly data suggest that advertising affects overall consumption of cigarettes with an elasticity of +0.07. In addition, they argue that advertising has a 'carry over' effect of about four quarters on current consumption.
These results are potentially important for two reasons. Although the evidence is mixed, the conventional view [only of the tobacco companies] is that cigarette advertising affects brand choice among smokers but not aggregate demand for cigarettes. Chetwynd et al.'s results, (hereafter, Chetwynd) contradict this traditional view. [As did almost all other informed opinion — mainly because it is commonsense.]
Secondly, if advertising does increase the aggregate demand for cigarettes, then a public policy banning cigarette advertising might reduce aggregate demand for cigarettes.
Unfortunately, the Chetwynd, study is sufficiently flawed with conceptual and econometric problems that their inference that advertising increases cigarette demand is questionable.
[As the prostitute Mandy Rice-Davies said at the Profumo Inquiry: "Well, they would say that, wouldn't they ?"]
Certainly cigarette advertising may increase or decrease cigarette consumption. The point we wish to make is that, any inference one way or the other based on the results of Chetwynd, cannot be viewed as well-grounded in either scientific methodology or statistical principles.
1986 Apr 3: This is an approved copy of the letter on "New Research Proposals" that Jim Savarese sent to his long list of network economists. This letter leaves no doubt that these academic economist knew that they were being paid to protect the interests of the tobacco industry.
The economist were also being given outline "rebuttals" developed by Tollison and Wagner to help them in writing their counter-attacks to an an Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) anti-smoking report.
I would like to thank you for all of your cooperation and diligence in handling the projects we have worked on together. I am taking this opportunity to alert you to some new research opportunities that may be available in the upcoming weeks. This went out to the long list of cash-for-comments economist on the network.
As you know, the tobacco industry is exposed continuously to a barrage of attacks on economic issues. Many of these attacks involve a serious perversion of the concept of social cost. The Tobacco Institute is interested in considering research proposals which would establish a much more realistic examination of the social cost issue as it relates to the smoking issue.
I have attached a report prepared by the staff of the Office of Technology Assessment which is representative of the kind of "research" being put forth by anti-tobacco activists. I have also included the rebuttals developed by Bob Tollison and Richard Wagner to the OTA report.
The Institute would like to examine proposals for research that test, in a quantitative way, a number of propositions on the relevant cost considerations that apply to the smoking issue.
1986 April 16: Robert Ekelund writes back to "Jim" [James Savaese] about
"your memo of April 3, 1986 regarding new research opportunities relating to the tobacco question.
They wanted $45,000 for a three month effort to prove what they had already concluded..
I am enclosing a research proposal developed by me, Richard Ault and John Jackson entitled "Is Absenteeism Related to Smoking? An Empirical Study" for your consideration. I think that an answer to that question would be a valuable handle on which to rebut the conventional wisdom that it is. However, as we note in the prospectus, it does not relate directly to the question of whether the suggested "cost" is individual or social.
[Note that they are able to predict the outcome of their study before it is even commissioned.]
To do a first-rate job on this subject requires a theorist ( [Richard] Ault) and an empirical man ( John Jackson is probably the best practicing econometrician I have ever known).
I have estimated very high on the budget, but this can be adjusted in any way you think appropriate if you decide you like the project. No matter what, we appreciate the opportunity you have given us to throw our hat in the ring.
[Richard Ault's CV was attached to this copy of the proposal. This exceptional study could be tailor-made to fit any budget or requirement the Tobacco Institute was willing to throw their way! It was entirely open-ended.]
The original proposal by Ekelund, Jackson and Ault was for a study titled:
"Is Absenteeism Related to Smoking? An Empirical Study"
The name later changed subtly to
"Is Absenteeism Due to Smoking? An Empirical Study"
Don't confuse this with the later study done in 1990 called
"Smoking & Absenteeism"
which had the above three authors plus Saba and Saurman (all from Auburn University)
1986 Apr 16: The C/V of John Jackson has been sent along to the Tobacco Institute.
1986 May 16: Jim Savarese and Bob Tollison have reviewed the "Social Cost' (OTA) research proposals received and they suggest to the Tobacco Institute those that "Merit Consideration for Funding:"
Although these can be improved in some regards to ensure they are most useful to the industry, three proposals seem to have a good deal of merit. They also want some revised and re-submitted:
- "Is Absenteeism Related to Smoking? An Empirical Study" by Robert Ekelund, Richard Ault, and John Jackson. This is a solid, well thought out proposal. I think they could show that smokers are not more absent from work, other things equal.
- "The Relevance of Consumption Benefits from Smoking: An Empirical Assessment" by Dwight R. Lee and Phillip A. Cartwright. This is a good proposal to estimate the benefits of smoking, which, strangely enough, has never been done. This research will be quite useful.
- "Employment Effects of Smoking Bans in Public Accommodations" by CM. Lindsay and M. T. Maloney. This is an interesting proposal about smoking bans and the impact on restaurants.
They propose rejecting the Kurth-Coats proposal; the Lindsay-Maloney proposal; and one from Henry Butler.
- "Improving the Accuracy of the Assessment of Social Cost Associated with Smoking" by Barry W. Poulson.
[There is also a scathing criticism of the Kurth-Coats project and heavy criticism of one from economist Cotton Lindsay. They have gone back to Henry Butler to give him a chance to revise his proposals. Dennis Logue, Barry Poulson and the Cartwright & Lee proposal also aren't up to the standard required.
On the whole, the economist's network scored fairly low by their standards.]
1986 June 5: Susan Stuntz writes that she is interested in the absenteeism proposal by Ekelund, Ault and Jackson, and the food-service industry/smoking ban study by Lindsay-Maloney. She thinks the Cartwright-Lee and Poulson projects are worth reviewing.
Savarese's attached note says about this proposal:
"Is Absenteeism Related to Smoking? An Empirical Study" by Robert Ekelund, Richard Ault, and John Jackson.
This is a solid, well thought out proposal. I think they could show that smokers are not more absent from work, other things equal.
1986 July 9: Robert Ekelund's private economists sub-network at Auburn University has been formed, and it is now attacking the decision of the General Service Administration to ban smoking by writing a joint letter at the request of the Tobacco Institute.
They say they are bothered by economic considerations only:
- Our general concern is that the costs of such a regulation will ultimately fall on taxpayers.
- The most obvious costs of the regulation are those for physical alterations to the several thousand buildings that will be effected by the regulation. We would imagine that No Smoking Except in Designated Areas" would have to be placed at all entrances, and that "Smoking" and 'No Smokirrg" signs would have to be posted throughout GSA-controlled buildings.
- A major cost of this regulation would result from a loss in productivity of federal workers.
- Implementation of this regulation would require a great deal of time by
administrative personnel. The regulation would of course lead to disputes
which would also involve valuable time of both employees and administrative
- In addition the regulation will be disruptive and lead to discrimination against minorities and low income employees.
[For some reason, this 'cost-benefit analysis' ignored all the benefits of a non-smoking environment — both for the workers and the building maintenance...?]
The signatories were Richard B Ekelund, Richard Ault, David Saurman, John D Jackson, Robert F Hebert, John K Watson,
and Mark Thornton
— all from the Economics Department.
1986 Jul 10: Cash-for-comments economist Charles Maurice, at Texas A&M University, copied the pattern of the Ekelund/GSA letter and has his Economics Department write one similar to that from Auburn University.
Five Texas A&M economists got embroiled in this scam... but unlike the signatories at Auburn University, this appears to be their single indiscretion. [There were no further records of them working for tobacco.] Those caught were
Sixteen copies of this letter were circulated around the tobacco industry. Clearly the tobacco industry was absolutely delighted to find a group of suckers willing to add their names to Maurice's letter,
- Leonardo 'Pepe' Auernheimer, from Argentina
- John R Hanson II
- Gregory Delemeester
- Niccie L McKay
- Lynn Gillette
from George Mason University; D Allan Dalton
from Boise State Uni; and Arthur Mead
from Rhode Island Uni also wrote GSA letter, and collected their payments from the Tobacco Institute.
1988 Mar: Robert Ekelund has represented the proposal for "Is Absenteeism Due to Smoking? An Empiracle Study" Both Richard Ault and John Jackson are still listed as co-researchers.
Their aim is to use a "regression-based analysis of covariance" to discount the 1985 Rice and Hodgeon study that concluded smokers lost 32% more work days list due to smoking and smoke-related illnesses.
The advantage of this approach is that, in addition to being technically correct, its results can be easily explained in terms which are clear to a general audience.
It is suspected, for example, that smoking is related to alcohol consumption, to job type (blue collar) and to sex (males). Our study will provide a manner of testing whether smokers miss work due to smoking or to different "endowments" such as these."
[Take a guess what they would find?]
[Network economists Richard Saba and David Saurman (San Jose State University) later joined the team.
This is one of the few studies where funding credit is given to the Tobacco Institute.]
1989 May 8: Montgomery Advertiser Smokers sick of bad rap over job habits
Heavy smokers don't call in to work sick any more otten than those of us who never light up. Well, at least not much more otten.
[Just how gullible can a journalist get?]
Science has proved it.
An Auburn University professor, who puff on a pack-and-a-half a day, was delighted to deliver that news to his colleagues. His research blew rings around the theory that smokers are sickly.
"Smoking per se does not appear to cause absenteeism," concluded Dr John D. Jackson in his study, "Smoking and Absenteeism." He admits he's taken a lot of ribbing from fellow (non-smoking) professors at Auburn, who tease his results were suspiciously convenient.
He takes it in stride. In fact, among the four scientists participating in the study, only Dr Jackson and one other smoke while the other two don't — certainly a balanced group.
Dr.Jackson's study went on to conclude that to the extent smoking at work contributes to job satisfaction to smokers, that group might actually miss less work if they are allowed to smoke in their workplace.
[This newspaper article preceded the formal publication in an economics journal.]
1989 Aug 8: Leslie Dawson of Savarese & Associate gives a status report on the Social Cost Project
- Smoking & Absenteeism (Ekelund, Ault, Jackson, Saba, Saurman) — submitted to the Southern Economic Journal, then revised and resubmitted — no editorial decision yet.
- The Social Cost of Everyday Life (Gary Anderson) — submitted to Contemporary Policy Issues — no editorial decision yet.
- Smoking and the Problem of Social Cost (Tollison & Wagner — accepted by Journal of Public Choice (they controlled the journal)
- Smoking and the Wealth of Nations (Wagner) — submitted to Journal of Contemporary Business.
- Self-Interest, Public Interest, and Public Health (Tollison & Wagner) — submitted to to Journal of Public Interest and Public Choice
- Smokers' Subsidy of Nonsmokers' Retirement Benefits (Higgins and Gordon Sufford from Capital Economics) — submitted to Social Science and Medicine
- Social Cost and the Cigarette Excise Tax: A Misguided Rationale for an Inefficient and Unfair Policy (Dwight R. Lee) — Unpublished
- Some Economic Consequences of the Koop Doctrine: National and State Revenue Shortfall from Smoking Regulation (Ekelund) - still at TI for review.
1988 July: /E lists Bob Tollison and Dick Wagner [both cash-for-comment, tobacco economists from George Mason University] are giving evidence on Worksite Smoking Policies for the Tobacco Institute. They quote 'misleading accounting data' as the reason why smokers are believed to have higher absenteeism rates, and quote Ekelund et al as establishing that:
"when such factors are taken into account, smoking per se has no impact on worker absenteeism." ( Ault RW, RB Ekelund, JD Jackson, RS Saba and DS Saurman, Smoking and Absenteeism : An Empirical Study, Auburn, Alabama — 1988). [There is no sign of this study report in the Tobacco Institute files — one that we would expect them to have both funded and celebrated]
1988 Nov 1: Savarese is billing the Tobacco Institute for some work done [apparently a progressive payment]:
Robert Ekelund's critique of the Chetwynd study $1,800.00
This is payment for an attempted refutation of a New Zealand study into the use of cigarette advertising to attract new customers.
The study was researched by the Tobacco Institute (there are numerous files labled "Robert Ekelund's critique of the Chetwynd Study"
) and the study was finally published by the British Journal of Addiction
in November 1989 as "The Influence of Advertising on Tobacco Consumption: some problems with Chetwynd et al.'s analysis"
by John D Jackson and Robert B.Ekelund Jr
1989 Nov: British Journal of Addiction publishes "The Influence of Advertising on Tobacco Consumption: some problems with Chetwynd et al.'s analysis" by John D Jackson and Robert B. Ekelund Jr
The Journal carries an editoral and a number of commentaries on advertising and smoking. The Editorial is titled "Advertising and Smoking — A Smouldering Debate". The editor comments:
Advertisements which promote tobacco brands have been restricted to varying degrees. Fifty-eight countries or around one-third of the United Nations have banned certain kinds of advertising, 20 of them being complete bans. The industry has responded by a variety of ingenious ruses to counter such bans, not only by expanding advertising in exempt media but particularly by sponsoring popular sporting and cultural events. With the proliferation of 'hot' electronic media and international broadcasting, it has proved difficult to eliminate 'indirect' advertising of tobacco. The controversy in the pages of this journal were the result of the Chetwynd study.
The original study by Chetwynd et al. (1988), attracted attention both because of its extension of econometric analysis of smoking to another country and because it has purported to estimate the effect of industry advertising on consumption, a subject which remains controversial. It should be noted here that the data used by Chetwynd et aI. and re-estimated by Harrison er aI. (1989) was purchased by the New Zealand Department of Health which also made it available to researchers in another university who took a different approach but came up with similar results (Toxic Substances Board, 1989).
He goes on to publish commentary by some tobacco consultants and some anti-smoking advocates:
In retrospect it appears clear that the original Chetwynd study was seriously flawed for two broad reasons: poor data and inappropriate methodology. However, the response by that research group [under Robin] Harrison (1989 [Toxic Substances Board]) has been spirited and has removed many of the most obvious objections.
- "The Influence of Advertising on Tobacco Consumption: some problems with Chetwynd et al's analysis" by John D Jackson and Robert B Ekelund Jr.
[Both long-term tobacco industry lackies.]
- "The Influence of Advertising on Tobacco consumption: a reply to Jackson & Ekelund." by Robin Harrison, Jane Chetwynd & Roderick J Brodie.
[They conclude that while some flaws were in the original paper, their model and their analysis is still robust]
- "There is No Convincing Evidence for a Relationship between Cigarette Advertising and Consumption" by JJ Boddewyn (another tobacco industry lackey.)
[Boddewyn questions Chetwynd's ability to undertake impartial research... The pot calling the kettle black once again.]
- "The Influence of Advertising on Tobacco Consumption: a reply to Boddewyn", by Jane Chetwynd, Roderick Brodie and Robin Harrison.
- Simon Chapman, a prominent anti-smoking academic from Sydney University also chimes in with "The Limitations of Econometric Analysis in Cigarette Advertising Studies," He thinks these econometric studies are relatively useless, and points out that if advertising wasn't effective then the tobacco companies would not be the world's No. 1 advertisers.
- Glen Smith, an Australian tobacco industry consultant who ran the Children's Research Unit from London to prove that advertising had no effect on recruiting new smokers — especially on children — [And was well paid for his services] also added his piece "The Effects of Tobacco Advertising on Children".
- Luk Joossens, a Belgian Consumer researcher and control advocate adds "The Influences of Advertising on Tobacco Consumption: comments on Boddewyn & Chapman."
1989 Nov 17: Jackson's MasterCard Account sent to the Tobacco Institute when claiming for a $40 meal at the German Beirgarten at the Orlando Trade Center. His wife Martha, also charged them $16 for Chicken and French Fries.
1989 Nov 18: Ekelund reports to Savarese that John Jackson has presented a paper at the Southern Economics Association conference in New Orleans "Some Revenue Consequences of the Koop Doctrine: Forecasts of Tax Revenue Losses to Various States in a Smokeless Society"
[They were also trying to build up the case for cross-State-border smuggling, resulting in further revenue lost through cigarette excises.]
1989 Dec 5: James Savarese is sending a bill to the Tobacco Institute for his own fees ($18,500) and the detailed out-of-pocket expenses for his group of economists speaking at the "Southern Economic Association Meeting" Nov 19—22 in Orlando Florida.
- James Savarese — $1239
- Robert Ekelund — $1271
- John D Jackson — $1029
- Richard Saba — $843
- Richard Ault — $1002
- Mark Thornton — $428
- Henry Butler — $983
- Keith Watson — (will send later)
1990 Jan 4: Ekelund and Jackson now propose to the Tobacco Institute that they create a rejoiner to the Chetwynd reply to their original rejoiner about the Chetwynd study — for the British Journal of Addiction.
We believe that these, and other problems must be resolved since the editor (BJA, p. 1243) believes that Chetwynd and her colleagues have largely resolved the methodological problems surrounding statistical estimates of advertising's effect(s) on cigarette consumption. They have not. They don't give an estimate of cost [but see below].
1990 Jan 10: Jim Savarese writes to Fred Panzer at the Tobacco Institute.
Attached is the article placed by Ekelund and Jackson in the Journal of Addiction.
Also attached is a memo to me on follow-up work that can be done.
Ekelund feels that this methodology is a joke - even worse than their original paper. They are willing to write up this critique and send it back to the Journal of Addiction to keep our side of the controversy alive.
The cost for producing and submitting the critique would be $8,500.
1990 Feb 1: Savarese's report to Susan Stuntz at the Tobacco Institute lists a number of projects involving the cash-for-comment economists:
- "Smoking and the Problem of Social Cost: A Survey" by Tollison and Wagner, published in Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice - reprints have been distributed.
- "Smoking and Absenteeism: An Empirical Study" by Ault, Ekelund, Jackson, Saba, and Saurman - submitted to Applied Economics.
- "Smokers Subsidy of Nonsmokers' Retirement Benefits" by Higgins and Shuford - submitted to Social Science and Medicine.
- "The Social Costs of Everyday Life" by [Gary] Anderson submitted to Contemporary Policy Studies.
- "Social Cost and the Cigarette Excise Tax: A Misguided Rationale for an Inefficient and Unfair Policy" by [Dwight] Lee - submitted to Contemporary Policy Studies.
- "Self Interest, Public Interest, and Public Health" by Tollison and Wagner - accepted for publication in Public Choice.
- "Some Economic Consequences of the Koop Doctrine: National and State Revenue Shortfall from Smoking Regulation" by Ekelund - returned to Ekelund for submission.
- "Smoking and the Wealth of Nations" by Wagner - submitted to Journal of Contemporary Business.
Began Phase III of the social cost research. Proposals have been submitted to TI.
1990 April: The Tobacco Institutes "Public Affairs Management Plan Progress Report." This 40 page document has overviews by different section heads.
- Excise Taxes: (Page 3) Consulting economists' op-eds have all been written, reviewed and returned to the authors for placement. Of the 20 articles commissioned, 11 have been placed thus far. Most recently, Joseph Jadlow's article appeared in the Tulsa Tribune ; Cecil Bohanan's op-ed was published in the Muncie Star.
Consulting economists also have followed up with the transmittal of the opeds to Senators and Representatives from their states.
- The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) also released its most recent study. "Are Americans on a Consumption Binge?" [which] refutes the notion that Americans have been overconsuming and undersaving, and thus, that Congress should raise consumption taxes such as excises. The EPI study lays the groundwork for later activities, eg, a tax policy conference that will continue to build the record against aising regressive consumer excise taxes.
- We learned last month that State Activities [of the TI] has made extensive use in Texas of consulting economist Michael Davis. Davis conducted editorial board briefings with Texas newspapers in several cities, including Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Galveston and Corpus Christi. As a result, the San Antonio Light has published a favorable editorial.
- Social Cost: [A] TI-commissioned social cost research paper on smoking and absenteeism, completed in 1989, has been accepted for publication by an academic journal.
- "Smoking and Absenteeism," (See page 30) by consulting economists Robert Ekelund, Richard Ault, John Jackson, Richard Saba and David Saurman, has been accepted for publication by the academic journal, Applied Economics. The authors examine previous absenteeism and productivity studies and find that the "association of smoking and increased absenteeism is spurious."
- Consulting economists will receive TI support for a presentation of academic papers during the Western Economic Association's conference to be held in San Diego in June. The session, "Smoking and Public Policy," will involve Dwight Lee and Gary Anderson in a discussion of smoking and social cost issues.
[These are all cash-for-comments academics.]
1990 Aug 29: Robert Tollison, as Director of the Center for Study of Public Choice has put a submission into the Environmental Protection Agency as part of its scientific exchange over Indoor Air Quality (ANR-445).
His submission is deceptive from the opening paragraphs. He says:
I come to the issue of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) from a background as a professional economist. It is therefore the economic aspects of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed guide to workplace smoking policies which I will critically assess. This is an outright lie. In fact he comes to the ETS problem from the position of a well-paid lobbyist working for the Tobacco Institute and its global equivalent, the ICOSI/INFOTAB organisation.
He claims that the application of basic economic principles would result in the conclusion that...
... there are presently no uncompensated costs in the workplace arising from ETS; hence, there can be no cost savings from banning ETS in the workplace. The outright stupidity of this conclusion is mind-blowing. Not even the tobacco industry would claim such an absurdity. He compounds his mendacity by saying...
there is no persuasive evidence that smokers impose special costs on their employers or that smoking employees are more costly overall than nonsmokers. Second, to the extent smoking is an issue, employers and employees already have sufficient incentive to negotiate an efficient employment relationship. [In other words, the ill-health of workers imposes no costs, and non-smoking workers can learn to put up with tobacco smoke — or perhaps leave.]
In support of this ridiculous position he refers the EPA to material prepared by his stable of cash-for-comments economists, including:
Richard W Ault; Robert B Ekelund Jr, John D Jackson; Richard Saba; David Saurman, Richard E Wagner; [This submission was made on Center for the Study of Public Choice letterhead.]
1990 Oct 31: Ekelund has sent Savarese his "Proposed Program for SouthWestern Social Sciences Association Meeting" for approval. He will chair the session to be called "The Political Economy of Dedicated Taxes"
It will have papers by Dwight Lee, Robert Tollison and Richard Ault. Also Mark Thornton, John Keith Watson and John Jackson will be discussants.
[All cash-for-comments academics. Watson is now at the University of SouthWestern Louisiana]
1991: Applied Economics has finally published "Smoking and Absenteeism: An Empirical Study." by Richard W Ault, Robert B Ekelund, John D Jackson, Richard S Saba, and David Saurman,
1991: [in document dated 1988 Oct ]This appears to be three papers from various journals republished by someone for the Tobacco Institute. It is labled Scelte Pubbliche - the quarterly Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice which has published the first monograph "Social Cost, Rent Seeking and Smoking: A Public Choice Perspective", by Robert D Tollison and Richard E Wagner of the Center for Study of Public Choice, GMU.
The war on tobacco is being waged on two fronts, one medical and one economic The medical front is filled with the images of war: of a continually spiraling body count along with many other smokers left with diminished physical capacities. The economic front is naturally less dramatic for it attempts to reduce the castulties of war to some dollar magnitude. What results is an effort to measure the social cost of smoking. The idea behind such measures is to construct some meaningful metric that can personalize the health toll thought to be exacted by tobacco.
The next 15 pages of this amazing academic paper then seeks to justify these social losses and social costs and attack claims that cigarettes are addictive. The motives of anti-smoking activists, they conclude is:
For instance, in its wide-ranging survey of scholarship on the medical and economic consequences of smoking, the Office of Technology Assessment (1985) reported that different scholars had estimated smoking-related deaths to lie between 186.000 and 398.000 in the United States in 1982. Among this wide range of estimates, the OTA report went on to pick out 314.000 deaths as a best estimate.
The economic toll associated with these deaths have been estimated by various scholars to lie somewhere between $40 billion and $100 billion in 1985 dollars, according to the OTA survey. Within this range of estimates, the OTA report selected $65 billion as a best estimate of the social cost of smoking.
Bigger budgets, more grants, more notoriety, among other possible payoffs, would seem to fuel the efforts to resist smoking.
[It is hard to credit that this sort of superficial special-interest bullshit actually gets into print, but it does — and what's more, some economists take it seriously.]
We have gone into this matter in detail in our book (Tollison and Wagner 1988), but the point is actually quite simple. If we are correct, and we think that we are, that the social cost of smoking is zero, then the motivation to resist smoking either springs from considerations of ignorance or rent seeking. The most likely candidate theory to explain the public policy struggle over smoking, in our opinion, is the latter.
For instance, regulations that restrict the ability of people to smoke in the workplace can be a means of transferring income from smokers to nonsmokers. Suppose smoking enhances the efficiency with which smokers work. A restriction on the ability to smoke will thus reduce the efficiency of smokers and increase the comparative efficiency of nonsmokers.
Similarly, restrictions on smoking in restaurants can be a means of transferring income from smokers and from restaurant owners to nonsmokers. Those restrictions will reduce the demand for restaurant meals by smokers, who will thus shift to a less preferred consumption set.
This decrease in demand will in turn reduce the net income of restaurant owners, as well as reducing the capital stock invested in restaurants in the long run. The reduction in demand caused by the regulation will, given the supply of restaurants, reduce the price of meals to nonsmokers.
This was followed by a 1991 Applied Economics paper, "Smoking and Absenteeism" but the ardent cash-for-comments networkers, Ault, Ekelund, Jackson, Saba and Saurman. You'd need to have a degree in advanced statistical convolution in order to read more than the first paragraph.
Also attached is another paper by Tollison and Wagner, "Self-interest, public interest and public health. which lays the blame on the self-interests of the medical and activist communities.
Summary: Although the activities of physicians, as represented by the AMA, have long been viewed from a self-interest perspective by economists, public-health processes have not been subjected to such an examination. But just as the conduct of ostensibly charitable hospitals cannot be examined independently of the interests of the physicians who staff them, so too, we think, the conduct of public-health bureaus should not be examined in isolation from the interests of the medical community that they represent.
An interest-group interpretation of public health would look to the ways in which public-health processes increase the aggregate demand for medical services, thereby generating quasi-rents for specialized input suppliers. We have explored in preliminary fashion some ways in which public-health agencies may advance the collective interests of physicians, though we would be the first to acknowledge that much work remains to be done on this topic.
1991 Mar 27: Richard Ault has written "Earmarked Taxes and Rent-Seeking" for a meeting of the Southwestern Social Sciences Association in San Antonio, Texas.
His close friend and associate at Auburn University, and fellow cash-for-comments academic John D Jackson has followed the speech with a faux-Commentary.
• Ault's speech (as sent to the Tobacco Institute)
• Jackson's pantomine criticism (from TI files)
1995: Ekelund and Paula A Gant (later VP Regulatory Affairs, American Gas Association) have published "Taxation and the Consumption of Wine: Are Excise Taxes the Answer to the HealthCare Crisis?"
As with a number of other cash-for-comments academic economists, they appear to also now been conducting their lobbying activities through The Independent Institute.
The authors are extremely grateful to John D. Jackson, Robert D. Tollison, Gordon Tullock and George S. Ford for helpful comments and guidance as well as to participants in the Sin Tax Session of the 1995 Public Choice Society Meetings. As with the work they did for the tobacco industry, this study (probably) for the alcohol industry, found that:
At all odds, sin taxes, aside from being unpredictable and unreliable forms of government finance, are inefficient and inequitable. The corrective tax argument, with one clear qualification in the form of drunk driving costs , does not apply to alcohol. The application of differential sin taxes to alcohol makes even less sense.
We argue that taxes of the form implemented in the sin tax increase of 1991 may actually be counterproductive if redressing social costs is the aim of public policy.
[There is no evidence that Paula Gant (a PhD at Auburn) was ever a professor at the university. She did, however, work with Richard Saba and T Randolph Beard on an 'alcohol smuggling' study.]
1995 /E: The same Auburn University cash-for-comments economists team are working also for the alcohol industry [Most tobacco companies own beer and/or distilled spirits companies].
"Exclusive Territories and Advertising Restrictions in the Malt Beverage Industry" William Shughart, Robert B. Ekelund, Jr., John D. Jackson, David S. Saurman, and Robert D. Tollison. [See also their 1988 report on alcohol advertising]
1995 Apr: The Western Economic Association International journal publishes "The Demand for Cigarette Smuggling" by Robert Ekelund, Richard Saba, Rand Riessler and Randolph Beard, all from Auburn University.
The authors are thankful for the help they received from John Jackson and Bob Tollison — but not (apparently) for the Tobcco Institute which doesn't get a credit.
Essentially the study's conclusions are that the inelacticity of demand for cigarettes [a euphemism for 'nicotine addiction'] means that the addicts will cross borders to buy them cheaper if they can.
1997 Jan: John Jackson and Richard Saba are still promoting the Tobacco Institute line. In the Southern Economic Journal they have an article USA: Cigarette taxation and health care finance.
John Jackson and Richard Saba of Auburn University in Alabama argue that there is a limit beyond which taxes, including those levied on goods such as cigarettes, can be increased without affecting demand and therefore tax revenues. They suggest that cigarette prices in excess of about US$7.60 per pack will almost certainly decrease the demand for cigarettes in every US state.
They also claim that federal tax revenues will tend to increase with increases in federal tax rates, everything else being the same, up to a tax rate of US$1.10 per pack. They say that the steep decline of revenues beyond this point means that it would be futile to use a US$2+ per pack tax increase to finance any federal programme, much less one like national health care, whose revenue requirements are likely to increase dramatically as time goes on.
This is the period following the Master Settlement Agreement which was struck between the tobacco industry and the Clinton Administration. The agreement stipulated that activities like those of the cash-for-comments network economists were supposed to cease.
They didn't, of course, but the paper trail runs out.
The Auburn University cabal of economists appear to have turned to the alcohol, casino (Abramoff?) and telephone companies for their pocket money.
2004: Applied Economics "Smokeless tobacco, smoking cessation and harm reduction: an economic analysis," by Richard Ault & Robert Ekelund & John Jackson & Richard Saba.
2005 March: The European Journal of Health Economics, "On the (mis)use of cross-price effects to gauge the effectiveness of smokeless tobacco in smoking cessation," by Richard Ault & T. Beard & John Jackson & Richard Saba.