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WARNING: 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.


Smoking-Gun docs.


Robert Burton ('Bob') Ekelund
Richard W Ault
John D Jackson
David S Saurman
Robert F Hebert
J Keith Watson
Mark Thornton
Richard Higgins
James Savarese
Robert Tollison
Anna Tollison
Richard Wagner
James C Miller III
economists networks
Carol M Robert
Elizabeth A Masaitis
Committee on Taxation and Economic Growth
Harold Hochman
Fred McChesney
Thomas Borcherding
Delores T Martin
Dennis Dyer
George Minshew
Ctr.Study Pub.Choice
James Buchanan
William Prendergast
Bill Orzechowski

Dominick Armentano
Burton A Abrams
Lee Alston
Ryan C Amacher
Gary Anderson
Lee Anderson
William Anderson
Terry Anderson
Roger Arnold
Richard W Ault
Michael Babcock
Joe A Bell
Bruce L Benson
Peter Boettke
Thomas Borcherding
William J Boyes
Charles Breeden
Lawrence Brunner
Henry N Butler
Bill Bryan
Cecil Bohanon
Morris Coates
Roger Congleton
Jeffrey R Clark
Michael Crew
Allan Dalton
John David
Michael Davis
Arthur T Denzau
Clifford Dobitz
John Dobra
Randall Eberts
Robert B Ekelund
Roger L Faith
David Fand
Susan Feigenbaum
Clifford Fry
Lowell Gallaway
Celeste Gaspari
David ER Gay
Kenneth V Greene
Kevin B Grier
Brian Goff
Sherman Hanna
Anne Harper-Fender
Kathy Hayes
Dennis Hein
James Heins
Robert Higgs
F Steb Hipple
Harold M Hochman
George E Hoffer
John Howe
William Hunter
Stephen Huxley
John D Jackson
Joseph M Jadlow
Cecil Johnson
Samson Kimenyi
David Klingaman
Michael Kurth
David Laband
Suuner Lacroix
Dwight R Lee
Dennis Logue
C. Matt Lindsay
Donald P Lyden
Craig MacPhee
Delores Martin
Chuck Mason
Charles Maurice
Fred McChesney
James E McClure
William McEachern
Robert McMahon
Arthur Mead
Paul L Menchik
John F Militello
William C Mitchell
Greg Neihaus
Allen Parkman
Mark Pauly
William Peterson
Harlan Platt
Michael D Pratt
Thomas Pogue
Barry W Poulson
Edward Price
Robert Pulsinelli
Raymond Raab
Roger Riefler
Terry Ridgeway
Mario Rizzo
Morgan Reynolds
Simon Rottenberg
Randy Rucker
Richard Saba
Todd Sandler
David Saurman
Mark Schmitz
Robert Sexton
William Shughart
Robert J Staaf
Thomas Stimson
Wendell Sweetser
Mark Thornton
Mark Toma
David G Tuerck
Richard Vedder
Richard Wagner
J Keith Watson
Burton Weisbrod
Walter E Williams
Thomas L Wyrick
Bruce Yandle
Boon Yoon
Richard D Zerbe




Richard W Ault    

— An cash-for-comment academic economist who supplemented his income writing pro-smoking newpaper opinion pieces for the tobacco industry. He worked closely with Robert Ekelund at Auburn University. —  

Richard Ault was initially recruited to the tobacco industry's economists' network by his associate at Auburn University, Robert Ekelund. Ekelund appears to have run a subsdiary network of economists (including at least on graduate student), but still within the Tollison/Savarese main network.

Note that Ault billed the Tobacco Institute initially through RL Ekelund & Associates, which was Professor Robert Ekelund's private company. Ekelund then billed the partnership of Tollison and Savarese through James Savarese & Associates. James Savarese & Associates then billed the Tobacco Institute.

Some key documents

• Economist working with Robert Ekelund at Auburn University. His references to the Tobacco Institute came from Ekelund and Tollison.

1946 July 23: Born See C/V

1968: AB (Economics) West Virginia University

1971–72: Instuctor at University of Virginia

1972–77: Lecturer, Texas A&M University

1977–78: Visiting Instructor, Sweet Briar College

1978–79: Acting Assistant Professor , University of Virginia

1979–83: Instructor, Louisiana State University

1983: PhD University of Virginia

1983–89: Assistant Professor, Auburn University

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.

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.
This went out to the long list of cash-for-comments economist on the network.

1986 Apr 16: Ekelund of Auburn University writes to James Savarese about the "New Research Opportunities" relating to the tobacco question.

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.

    To do a first-rate job on this subject requires a theorist (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.
They wanted $45,000 for a three month effort.

[This exceptional study could be tailor-fitted to any budget 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 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.
  1. "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.
  2. "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.
  3. "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 also want some revised and re-submitted:
  • "Improving the Accuracy of the Assessment of Social Cost Associated with Smoking" by Barry W. Poulson.
They propose rejecting the Kurth-Coats proposal; the Lindsay-Maloney proposal; and one from Henry Butler.

[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 July 9: Robert Ekelund's private economists network at Auburn University is being formed, and it is now attacking the decision of the General Service Administration to ban smoking. 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' left off all the benefits — both for the workers and the building maintenance...?]

The signatories to the letter were from RB Ekelund, Richard Ault, David Saurman, John Jackson, RF Hebert, JK Watson, and Mark Thornton — all from the Economics Department at Auburn University.

1986 Jul 21: Sam Chilcote of the Tobacco Institute writes to the members of the Executive Committee detailing their successes in generating objections to the proposed GSA {Government Services Administration] anti-smoking bans.

    They have persuaded the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) to help having the rules amended, and have turned out their friends and associated companies to generate letters of objection.

Included among the comments received by GSA thus far are thousands generated as a result of contact with TAN [Tobacco Action Network] activists, other tobacco family organizations, key coalitions, organized labor and economists.

    The State Activities Division's alert of key contacts in the field, as well as TAN activists, has generated at least 3,100 letters of opposition. These are letters for which copies have been sent to division headquarters; there are no doubt many others.

    Among member companies, all have asked their employees to write letters of opposition. In addition, RJ Reynolds reports its phone bank efforts to reach Washington, DC, residents, may have resulted in up to 3,700 opposition letters. Reynolds also sought letters from respondents to an earlier mailing on the federal excise tax issue. Philip Morris initiated a program designed to generate up to 10,000 mailgrams to GSA by the comment deadline.

    Letters of objection (all remarkably similar in content) from numerous academic economists were also attached. They all seemed to focus on one extraordinary aspect: the cost of implementating the ban.

    They all attacked the GSA's calculation "that the costs of NO-SMOKING signs in government buildings would cost less than $100 million annually." Robert Tollison had circulated a much higher estimate of costs (which some of the letter-writers mentioned)... and all of the economists' letters completely ignored any cost savings, such as lower cleaning and painting costs in government buildings; reduced sick days; higher productivity, etc.

    These letters, were all written within a few days of each other by university professors spread across the country, and they came from:
  • 8th July — Arthur T Denzau, Washington University, St Louis, Mo
  • 3rd July — Barry W Poulson, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • 10th July — Thomas E Borcherding, Claremont College/Graduate School, California
  • 7th July — William F Shughart II, Center for the Study of Popular Choice, George Mason University, Washington DC
  • Undated — (joint) Cecil E Bohanon, James E McClure, Stephan F Gohmann, Clarence R Deitsch, Lee C Spector — all PhDs in economics at Ball State University, Muscie, Ind.
  • 7th July — John F Militello, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania,
  • 7th July — Jean J Boddewyn, Baruch College, The City University of New York [Advertising lecturer]
  • 5th July — Morgan Reynolds, Texas A&M University
  • 8th July — Cliff P Dobitz, North Dakota State University
  • 8th July — William C Mitchell, University of Oregon
  • 11th July — Arthur C Mead, Economist, Newport RI
  • 10th July — D Allen Dalton, Boise State University, Idaho
  • 10th July — Henry N Butler, George Mason Univeristy
  • 10th July — (joint) S Charles Maurice, Leonardo Auernheimer, Niccie L McKay, John R Hanson II, Lynn Gillette, Gregory Delemeester at Texas A&M University
  • 9th July — (joint) Robert B Ekelund, Richard Ault, David Saurman, John Jackson, RG Hebert, JK Watson, Mark Thonton, at Auburn University, Alabama
  • 9th July — (joint) Richard K Vedder, Lowell E Gallaway, Jan Palmer, David Klingaman at Ohio University

1988: 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 say that 'misleading accounting data' is 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 being in the Tobacco Institute files. Yet this is one study that we' expect them to have both funded and celebrated.]

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.

    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.
[Just how gullible can a journalist get?]
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.

1989: Ault now becomes Associate Professor, Auburn University

1989 Nov 22: Richard Ault bills RB Ekelund & Associates $1002 for his "Expenses for presenting a paper at the Southern Economic Association Meeting in Orlando." This suggests some sort of money-laundering operation because both Ault and Ekelund were being paid by the Tobacco Institute to give speeches at this meeting. He is operating through Ekelund's private consulting company.

See the note below.

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 [Note expenses only] 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 /E: American Tobacco's advice to its senior staff about the operations of the 'Consulting Economists Team' suggests that their focus was on the 'core team of six' [However Ault's name is not included]

  • A core of six consulting economists is specifically trained in the social cost issue.
  • These economists are prepared for a variety of assignments, from presenting testimony to conducting research.
Who they are
  • The social cost economic team includes: Robert Tollison, Richard Wagner, Dwight Lee, Richard Higgins, Gary Anderson and Michael Davis.
Length of relationship
  • The team of social cost economists was established in early 1988. However, most of the economists have consulted with the industry on other issues for several years.
What they have done lately
  • Completed eight social research papers (review of the literature, absenteeism, international comparison, retirement benefits, tax earmarking, social cost of every day life, etc.).
  • Present social cost research during the Southern Economic Association annual meeting in Orlando (Ekelund) [Nov 29 1989] and in Lake Tahoe last June during the Western Economic Association annual meeting (Anderson).
  • Prepared and placed critiques of Smoking and the State.
  • October media tours to Little Rock, AR; Memphis, TN; and Reno/Las Vegas NV.
  • November media tours to Atlanta, GA; and Knoxville and Nashville, TN.
  • Testified at SAD's request in Florida regarding ten-cent cigarette excise tax hike earmarked for indigent health care insurance.

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: Social Cost overview by TBD and Carol Hrycaj at the Tobacco Institute says: [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," 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.

See page 30

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]

1990 Nov: Another meeting of the Southern Economic Association (New Orleans) on the subject "Economics and Smoking" has most of the economics faculty at Auburn University on the agenda:

  • CHAIRMAN: Robert B. Ekelund, Jr., Auburn University
  • "Forecasting U.S. Excise Tax Revenues Under Smoking Constraints" John D. Jackson, Auburn University
  • "The Economic Effects of Cigarette Bootlegging Across State Lines" Richard S. Saba, Auburn University
  • "The Economic Costs of Smoking: A Critique of the Conventional Wisdom" Richard W. Ault, Auburn University
  • John Keith Watson, University of Southwest Louisiana
  • Joseph Jadlow, Oklahoma State University
  • Mark Thornton, Auburn University

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.

    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.
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:
Bigger budgets, more grants, more notoriety, among other possible payoffs, would seem to fuel the efforts to resist smoking.

    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.
[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.]

    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 Jan: Public Smoking report of the Tobacco Institute lists 39 pages of their activities. It includes many major and minor activities to counter the "Social Costs" claims, including:

  • We continue developing resources to rebut social cost claims: Dwight Lee's social cost research paper has been published and consulting economists submitted the social cost treatise manuscript to a publishing house. A critique of the Health and Human Services social cost report is underway.
  • Consulting economist Dwight Lee's social cost paper, "Social Cost and the Cigarette Excise Tax: A Misguided Rationale for an Ineffective Policy," was published in the Journal of Private Enterprise. Lee examines the economic efficiency of raising the tobacco tax based on social cost claims. He asserts that increasing the tax based on these arguments "rests on extremely weak grounds, both theoretically and empirically." We plan to prepare the article in reprint form for further distribution.
  • Another Lee article appeared in print recently. "Economics and the War on Smoking, published in the December issue of The Margin, challenges claims that smokers should be taxed more than nonsmokers and that smokers are less productive than nonsmokers.
  • We completed the review process for the new draft social cost treatise, The Economics of Smoking. This involved intensive working sessions with the team of reviewers and subsequent meetings with the authors. The manuscript has been returned to the authors to be forwarded to the publisher.
  • We approved funding for a proposal to critique the Health and Human Services (HHS) report, National Status Report in Smoking and Health. Consulting economists Richard Ault and Robert Ekelund will examine the underlying methodology HHS used to derive its social cost estimates. We plan to aggressively promote the findings of the evaluation.

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)

1991 July 11: G.J.Burgess is sending to Sharon Boyse of BAT an article by RW Ault on smoking and absenteeism. He has concluded that smoking per se. has no significant influence on absenteeism, when the effects of other job characteristics and influences are taken account.

    This paper is, of course, widely quoted by the tobacco industry in later years.

1991 Aug: Tobacco Institute Public Affairs Management Plan, Progress Report says:

  • In an effort to close its budget gap, the Texas legislature considered a five-cent cigarette excise tax increase. Consulting economist Mike Davis submitted to the local press an op-ed arguing against increasing the cigarette tax.
  • An edited draft of "The Political Element in Science: SAMMEC and the Anti-Smoking Lobby," an in-depth examination of the statistical methodology underlying "social costs" figures promulgated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has been returned to the authors for revision and clarification.

        Consulting economists Robert Ekelund and Richard Ault are expected to provide their second draft in early September. At that time legal review of the document will be undertaken. In addition, issues staff will work with consultants to develop an executive summary of the Ekelund and Ault study for broad distribution to the media and policymakers. A promotion plan, including the potential for op-ed pieces and letters-to-the editor in selected media markets will also be developed.

1991 Sep 1: The first draft of the Ekelund and Ault 'Sports Sponsorship Ad-Ban' study has been sent to the Tobacco Institute for adjustments and legal clearance.

    With the aide of many charts and tables they come to the conclusion that the Tobacco Institute required — that the US economy would be devestate by sponsorship bans — and added a 'Slippery Slope' footnote:

The assault on free speech is not limited to tobacco advertising, but extends to beer and alcohol advertising in atheletics and toy advertising for children's television programming. In this regard see Ekelund and Saurman (1988).

1991 Dec 10: Martin Gleason advises Susan Stuntz:

Attached is an invoice for a study by economists Richard Ault and Robert Ekelund intended to demonstrate the micro economic effect on specific communities, specific sports and specific events of a ban on tobacco advertising and promotion.

    The paper needs some additional work which will be provided by the authors at no additional cost to The Institute.

    The amount of $26,500 represents final payment for this work.

1992 Jan 12: Cal George at the Tobacco Institute writes to Jim Savarese on the subject of the Ault and Ekelund Critique:

Attached is the second revision of Ault and Ekelund's The Political Element in Science and Technology: SAMMEC II and the Anti-smoking Lobby

Please note that there are now very few changes and points of clarification requested and it should be a relatively simple matter to move to a final draft which can be submitted to legal counsel for clearance.

    At your earliest convenience and that of other task force members, I would like to schedule a meeting of the social cost task force to discuss potential plans for publishing, releasing and promoting this critique.

Release of the study
  • Is there a potential sponsor for the study that we may have overlooked before or
  • is there a member of Congress who might be willing to appear at a press conference or have the study entered into the Congressional Record and issue a challenge to Secretary Sullivan to respond to the conclusive findings of this study which refute the validity of his earlier assertions;
  • One (or more) targeted media tour by the author(s) — [and the] need for a press release which puts the study's findings in punchy, graphic and easily understood terminology (i.e. a more journalistic style) ;
  • Op-ed(s) — identify potential targets for placement, [also do we need] writers (do Ault and/or Ekelund have this capability?) and author(s) for piece(s); and
  • [Any] Other means, mechanisms for dissemination and promotion?

[So much for the claimed 'independent views' of these economists!]

1992 Feb: The final re-drafting of the Ault/Ekelund Sports Sponsorship paper has now been delivered to the Tobacco Institute. All of the required editorial changes have been made.

1992 Feb 27: James Moeller of Ogilvy & Mather PR reported to Gleason at the Tobacco Institute that his...

... agency representative participated in meeting with client to develop strategy to promote Ault and Ekelund paper critiquing U.S. Department of Health and Human Services social cost economic model; agency reviewed paper and provided comments per client request.

1992 Mar 18: James Savarese writes to the Tobacco Institute attaching a reprint...

of Dwight Lee's paper, "Government v. Coase: The Case of Smoking." This paper is a product of the seminars and research projects which were commissioned over the past couple of years.
The article has been published in the Cato Journal, alongside an article by cash-for-comments economists Gary M Anderson and Adam Gifford Jr, and another by Richard B McKenzie [Not on tobacco topics] and has references to Tollison, Wagner and Ault.

    Attached to the Cato Journal is a draft academic paper by Richard Ault and Robert Ekelund specifically on tobacco and health measurements: "The Political Element in Science and Technology: SAMMEC II and the Anti-Smoking Movement." This article tries to argue that the standard statistical methods used for evaluating the health risk of smoking are wrong.
[SAMMEC = Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Morbidity and Economic Costs.]

1992 Oct 16: Jim Saverese has written to the Tobacco Institute with a project to promote a concerted attack on SAMMEC.[Smoking Attributable Mortality Morbidity and Economic Costs]

Today there is still a need to refute the data used regularly by the anti-smokers in supporting their "social cost" claims. We now have such a source in the paper entitled "The Political Element in Science and Technology: SAMMEC II and the Anti- Smoking Lobby" co-authored by Richard W. Ault and Robert B. Ekelund, Jr. of Auburn University.

1992 Nov 19: "Marty' (probably at Ogilvy & Mather) has requested ta CV on Bob Ekelund and Richard Ault from James Savarese & Associates. These are two of the longest-serving members of the economists network. http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/nfb93b00/pdf

SAMMEC (Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Morbidity and Economic Costs) was a software program developed initially by James M. Schultz and the Minnesota Department of Health in 1985 and 1986. It became famous in academic circles after being used in one well publicized nationwide study — the National Status Report on Smoking and Health published in 1990 (the "Sullivan Report").

    The SAMMEC II version was then developed for evaluating state, city, and national populations in order to determine the so-called "social costs" of smoking.

1993 Jan: Issues Manager Calvin George is outlining his plans for the Tobacco Institute operations in the following year. He is working with CART and organising "The Political Element in Science and Technology: SAMMEC II and the Anti-smoking Lobby" which is being published in March by GMUs Center for Study of Public Choice, and also The Economics of Smoking. They are planning media tours for late March and April.
[SAMMEC = Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Morbidity and Economic Costs.]

1993 Feb 17: Tobacco Institute report by Tollison and Wagner "Scientific Integrity Consumed by Anti-smoking Zealotry"

The figures generated by software programs such as SAMMEC are only as good as the assumptions on which they are based, SAMMEC has been subjected to careful scrutiny by Richard Ault and Robert Ekelund, economists at Auburn University, in a forthcoming report on "The Political Element in Science and Technology"

    In the report, they show that the developers of SAMMEC [The CDC's computer program which calculates deaths from smoking] have "invented an economic cost of smoking, by developing fictitious and exaggerated estimates of cost"

[Tollison and Wagner have prepared this document to aid the tobacco companies fight against an increase in Californian excise taxes on cigarettes.]

1993 Mar 10: Cal George to Susan Stuntz at the Tobacco Institute reports on the activities of his economists network.

Richard Ault and Robert Ekelund's critique of SAMMEC II software for estimating the alleged "social costs" of smoking, "The Political Element in Science and Technology: SAMMEC II and the Anti-Smoking Lobby," is being published as a working paper this month by George Mason University's Center for the Study of Public Choice.

    As you know, a plan has been developed for promotion of this study, along with Bob Tollison and Richard Wagner's newly available book on "social costs" , The Economics of Smoking, using Tollison and Wagner as spokespersons from the Center for the Study of Public Choice and experts on the application of "social costs" theory.

    SAMMEC II continues to be the primary tool being used by antismoking forces to argue for increased tobacco taxes and regulation, particularly on the health care reform front.

1993 Nov 18: Dwight Lee, Professor of Economics at Georgia University, giving evidence at a Congressional hearing of the Committee of Ways and Means (Rep). He quotes his friend Ault as an authority on absenteeism.

Professor Richard Ault of Auburn University and several colleagues recently reviewed a series of studies suggesting that smokers miss more work that nonsmokers because they smoke.

    Ault and his colleagues found that the studies merely compared absenteeism rates for smokers and non-smokers without considering whether the observed difference was due to smoking per se, or to other underlying determinants of absenteeism that are more prevelant among smokers than among nonsmokers.

    According to Ault, the failure to consider such other determinants has resulted in "supurious conclusions about the relationship between smoking and absenteeism."

[This is a variant on the constitutional hypothesis; say, a genetic predisposition to enjoy the taste of strawberries also increases the likelihood that you will smoke. Since many people are allergic to strawberries, it could be that these strawberry-loving smokers have more days away from work because of an allergic reactions than the non-smokers.]

1995 Apr 20: RJ Reynolds has produced a report labeled "SAMMEC - Recent Efforts"

    The tobacco industry had continued its funding of attacks on this economic model using the services of

  • Theodor Sterling;
  • John Ashford [Uni of Exeter UK];
  • Richard Wagner; Richard Ault and Robert Ekelund;
  • SAI [Stanley Greenfield and Systems Analysis International ;
  • Jones Day Reavis & Pogue [lawyers];
  • William 'Bill' Butler [Could be either WH or WJ Butler];
  • Gary Huber and Birgid Byrne.

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.



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