Social Affairs Unit

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

The Social Affairs Unit (SAU) is a registered charity in the United Kingdom and it claims to have always been an independent institute, although " started with active encouragement from the Institute of Economic Affairs" when it was under the control of the dapper Thatcherite, Lord Harris of High Cross (Ralph Harris). The SAU says that its founder/chairman was Professor Julius Gould, and that its founder/director was Dr Digby Anderson, but they were hired in by the IEA; this was in the midst of the era of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and the SAU had distinct political advantages for the Tory Party. It's mission statement says:

In its early years the Unit was concerned with the critical evaluation of the welfare state. Many of its authors' ideas then very controversial especially on schools and higher education - local autonomy, parental accountability, curricular rigour - have now found their way into the policy mainstream, so too has early work on adoption and social security. In the mid-eighties the Unit added a concern with values and started a series about virtue and social policy, including books on manners, and sanctions for deviant behaviour.'

In fact, it operates as a subsidiary of the Institute of Economic Affairs, which is itself linked to the peak global body of the Atlas Network through the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. It's funding has always come from large corporations and industry groups, especially those with poisoning and polluting problems, such as the tobacco and chemical industries. If you follow the money trail behind any of the Social Affairs Unit activities they will inevitably lead back to some corporation or industry seeking political influence, economic advantage, or effective public relations.

Although the Social Affairs Unit did a considerable amount of lobbying work for the tobacco industry, it was not tied to the cigarette industry in the same way as its sister organisation (also a IEA subsidiary) the European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF). And neither of these organisations openly declared their support for smoking in the same way as another sister organisation FOREST

SAU Scams

  • Digby Anderson, who ran the operation on behalf of the Institute of Economic Affairs was a political sociologist. He participated in a number of tobacco industry scams, and one of the most successful was the pseudo-science front group known as ARISE -- the Associates for Research in the Science of Enjoyment. This operation, supposedly of scientists investigating why we enjoy intoxicating substances like alcohol, tobacco, and various hard drugs so much -- and holding conferernces around the world to publicise their 'discoveries', was funded and controlled by Philip Morris. Digby Anderson was considered by them to be a "top-class expert" who helped reinforce the industry's messages.[1] , at Page 6

Tobacco industry funding

The Social Affairs Unit has accepted funding from British American Tobacco.[2][3] [4]



Advisory Council

Contact information

The Social Affairs Unit
314 - 322 Regent Street
London W1B 3BB

Web site:

External links

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