David M. Warburton

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David M. Warburton was Director of Human Psychopharmacology group at University of Reading in the United Kingdom. He was an expert on the psychological effects of nicotine, and he founded the tobacco-industry funded group known as ARISE Associates for Research in the Science of Enjoyment, which had previously been known as "Associates for Research in Substance Enjoyment,". The name changed to Associates for Research in the Science of Enjoyment in 1993. It was supposedly a group of scientists who studied the value of pleasure.

Warburton was actually a psychologist who was a recognised expert on nicotine until he retired in 2003. He also created and ran ARISE mainly for the tobacco industry, but in order to amplify the funding he also grouped tobacco with alcohol and less harmful products like chocolate, coffee and perfume, describing them as substances which "give us pleasure and enhance the quality of our lives.".

Warburton was the editor of the academic monthly Psychopharmacology Journal, [2] and he long maintained that nicotine wasn't addictive. He was supported in this assertion by two other prominent English scientists: the famous behavioural psychologist Hans Eysenck and the toxicologist Francis J. C. Roe, both of whom were in the pay of the tobacco industry for decades, and both of whom were prominent repudiators of the science used by regulators and activists to attack smoking.

Warburton himself is an occasional smoker.


Thousands of pages of scientific research reports have been wasted on the question: "Are cigarettes addictive?" (or, "Is nicotine addictive?") Yet anyone who has ever smoked and tried to give up, knows the answer. This is one of those scientific word-games that academic often play -- especially when a redefinition of a term has the potential to generate income from companies which don't want to wear the addiction brand. [3]

ARISE chose to blend studies on "addictive" tea and coffee, with "non-addictive" nicotine. And this new innocuous definition also provided a rationalisation useful for academics trying to maintain a semblance of public status, and smokers in a state of denial. Of course it is not a question of science but of lexicological distinctions. Terms like addiction can be applied to anything from minor habits ("addicted to fresh air and exercise"), through "dependent behaviors", to unsupressable cravings associated with deprivation, neurotic behaviour, and on to essentials-for-personal-survival.

It might appear that this is just a dependency continuum, but the first ('fresh air') is merely sensory; others are probably psychological within the normal range extending into the abnormal; while the general medical use of the term implies both psychological and physiological changes in the brain which require chemical reinforcement to give relief and restore the subject to some degree of normalcy.

The word "addiction" was so sensitive that Philip Morris had a blanket ban on it being written, even in memos, without the word "alleged" preceeding it. The problem the tobacco industry faced with admitting addiction is that it would destroy their "human rights" defense -- that people had the right to choose ... even if smoking was harmful to their health. Addicts, by any common-sense definition, can't choose.

Documents & Timeline

1976: Warburton was known to British tobacco industry as a researcher into the mental effects of nicotine from 1976 (or possibly before. In this year he published a study on the value of nicotine in improving visual performance, and from then on he recieved grants for his nicotine research. [4].

1984:Between 1984 and 1990 anti-smoking attitudes hardened and the emphasis on the harm to the health of smokers was refocussed onto non-smokers. The defence that smokers had a "choice" whether to smoke or not, didn't carry over into the rights of non-smokers to breathe clean air in public places. Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) or "passive moking" was now the main issue.

By 1984 Warburton was consulting extensively with the Carreras-Rothmans company on nicotine and addiction. It is significant that Rothmans believed that the industry had a "sensitive addiction issue" when it came to nicotine, while Warburton continued to maintain that it wasn't addictive -- just pleasurable. [5]

This coincided with Hans Eysenck's views to a degree. Eysenck divided people into Introverts and Extroverts, then explained anomalies by reclassifying some Introverts as Latent Extroverts (and vice versa). Such theories can, of course, explain anything. Eysenck and Warburton were in the process of jointly developing a 'motivational' theory of smoking which was to prove useful in explaining the smoker's "habitual" behaviour while rejecting any idea that nicotine could be "addictive". [6] This view was the firmly held by the tobacco companies in public also.

Later the ideas of Eysenck and Warburton diverged, with Eysenck emphasising the genetic propensity of some people both to smoke and to get lung cancer (the constitutional hypothesis), while Warburton focused on the importance of physical arousal and the functional value smokers got out of the nicotine surge. He didn't deny ... but simply ignored ... the lung-cancer/heart attack problems [7], seemingly believing that the beneficial effects outweighed the dangers.

For the tobacco industry, any admission of addictive would have invited instant government regulation of nicotine as a drug, so the industry had to maintain the fiction that smokers choose to smoke ... and this made smoking a human rights issue.

By mid-1984 Warburton was writing articles and preparing studies for the general tobacco industry's scientific PR efforts, and clearly he was now beginning to step over the scientific line and into the world of the public relations practitioner [8].

1984 late: Victor DeNoble and his partner Paul Mele had been employed for years by Philip Morris USA in their Richmond Research Laboratories as inhouse scientists doing much the same work as Warburton, and with greater attention on the real problems of addiction. But increasingly, they found they were denied the right to publish any of their research findings and DeNoble was forced to withdraw at least one paper from publication at the last minute through concerns by the company lawyers [9].

Then abruptly in 1984, they were flown to New York to be told that their laboratory was to close down -- without explanation, and virtually overnight. Existing studies were simply abandoned and the mice destroyed; their laboratory records were seized by the lawyers and they were without jobs. The decision had been made by the Committee of Counsel ( the joint committee of in-house lawyers under a cooperative agreement between the companies) that any animal research that might establish the addictive qualities of nicotine were far too risky to contemplate. [10].

1984-90: Generally, between 1984 and 1990, addiction research ground to a halt everywhere in the USA, and slightly later in Europe, as the industry realised that this was an insoluble problem in terms of the pharmacology, and that ETS was far more threatening politically.

1985 /E: By the early 1980s, Warburton study had shown that the beneficial effects nicotine had as an aid to concentration. This was widely promoted by the industry and well quoted in the scientific literature, and his "Functional" model emphasised the usefulness of nicotine and the pleasurable aspects of smoking. He also looked for possible beneficial effects of smoking to ward off age-related problems like Altzheimer's disease [11], (a tobacco-inspired theory at that time)

This was legitimate science, and his consulting work to the industry breached no ethical standards, despite his rather unconventional opinions.The state of knowledge at the time justified this work; the tobacco industry was attempting to understand the biological actions of the components of tobacco smoke.

The fact that the industry could slant these findings to their benefit should not reflect on Warburton. However he also advised the UK's Tobacco Advisory Council (formerly the Tobacco Research Council) on matters more related to scientists, than to the science -- and provided them with a critical evaluation and criticism on the research of other scientists [12][13]. Some of this work elevated his relationship to the companies from a science-advisor, to that of a " trusted colleague."

1985-88 Between 1985 and 1988, Denoble and Mele, now independent scientists, tried to get some of their papers on addiction published, but they were bound by old confidentially agreements and Philip Morris refused permission. They persisted and were regularly threatened by company lawyers [14] [15].

1987 Jan: In January 1987, Rothmans had organised a meeting between Warburton and Sharon Boyse and Ray Thornton who ran the "Smoking Issues" (PR) division of British American Tobacco (BAT) [16]. The industry baton for the control of Warburton was passed from Rothmans to BAT, and from genuine nicotine research to propaganda.

Sharon Boyse (who was the "Issues Manager" not a tobacco scientist at BAT) was interested in doing more research to emphasise the beneficial side of nicotine, and on Warburton's advice she approached Ian Hindmarch from the Human Pyschopharmacology Research Unit at Leeds University. [17] Hindmarch accepted the invitation to apply for a grant, and the nucleus of the new ARISE group was born [18]

Sharon Boyse's only concerns were with the ridiculous position the scientists (and the industry) were forced to take on questions of "addiction". [19]

1988:Warburton presented his views to New Zealand's Department of Health, which concluded that nicotine was addictive.
In the same year he participated in the Surgeon General's Report that deemed nicotine addictive, submitting a paper on tobacco's effect on human performance which was his research specialty, rather than addiction. (Comment: This paper may only have been written as a critique for the British tobacco industry)
In the same year he also wrote a detailed criticism of the US Surgeon Generals' report, which the industry circulated widely. Philip Morris staff recommended using his quotes on addiction, rather than those of any US scientists. [20]

Associates for Research in Substance Enjoyment

1988 Date given by ARISE for its first conference in Florence. [21]

1988 Late: Warburton's tobacco industry-funded phantom science association, ARISE ("Associates for Research in Substance Enjoyment"), had a number of celebrity members who were paid to tour Europe between 1988 and 1997 touting the line that smoking was good for people and actually boosted immunity because it relieved stress and people enjoyed it. ARISE also had associates in far off Tasmania, and his group with Auberon Waugh and Peter L Berger visited Australia to promote the ARISE message. Columnist Bernard Levin was also a member of the 'organisation'.

1989: The creation of ARISE was a stoke of genius for nicotine research specialists looking for a new and lucrative career. So it is probably no coincidental that in 1989, David Warburton switched his career emphasis from experimental research, to organising and running his own scientific society. He remained at Reading University, but now the grants made to him at the University were for a different purpose. In a 1989 bulletin of the British Psychological Society he argued that nicotine isn't addictive because its effects are different from those of drugs or alcohol. For example, it doesn't give a "strong, pleasurable thrill".

1989 July [Formal establishment of ARISE]. The first conference (later listed as an ARISE function) was held in Florence, Italy, during 1989. It was initially supported by RJ Reynolds, British American Tobacco, and possibly Philip Morris. Warburton appears to have convened this conference alone.

But the tobacco companies could see the publicity benefits of these conferences, and on the 12th and 13th of July 1990, Warburton, Ian Hindmarch and five other well-known tobacco-funded nicotine scientists were paid to meet in Zurich, and they agreed to formally establish the new group [22]. (See ARISE for further details)

Initially this was a one-man show, run out of Warburton's office in the Psychology Department at Reading University with only the part time services of one secretary. Later, a full-time secretariat was established at the London headquarters of PR company Fishburn Hedges. [23].

1990>>:Philip Morris and British-American Tobacco (plus allies in food and confectionary industries) funded ARISE members to conduct media tours to exotic locations and hold so-called conferences praising drinking, smoking, eating chocolate, using sugar and drinking Coca Cola -- stressing that enjoyment was an antidote to anxiety, which they said was even more of a health problem than indulgence. The main focus of ARISE was to garner media coverage through celebrity interviews during which they promoted a message aimed at boosting public attitudes which were anti-regulation (attacking the "Nanny State"), anti-welfare (hedonistic), anti-rational (Live life, and damn the consequences), and expressly anti-science ("Don't believe what you read about the dangers of smoking -- scientists can't be trusted.") Waugh's favourite line was to maintain that "hamburger gases" were probably a serious form of atmospheric pollution and he made references to the dangers of "passive hamburger eating".

1991: Date given by ARISE for its second conference - this one in Venice. [24]

1991-93 {Another claimed date] Philip Morris began funding Warburton (see below) He received $250,000 from the company. The date confusion may have been the result of a subtle name change for ARISE.

Philip Morris also saw Warburton as a valuable scientist to have on side. In a memo outlining the European requirements for Whitecoats who were surreptitious scientists prepared to generate pro-tobacco propaganda, one executive wrote:

"PM should invest much more in consultants: who can, either be very vocal (the Witorsch type) or respected among their peers (the Warburton type). Of least use are those consultants who have already been identified with the tobacco industry." [25]

1992 Philip Morris has funded a Mori poll into "Typical Pleasures of Everyday Life" and "Coping with Stress" which was used by Warburton in the 1993 Brussels conference. It generated a comparison between "Sex" and a "Hot bath" with smoking a cigarette. They also produced a Video News Release (VNR) which was picked up by 8 TV channels in Germany, Spain, UK and Belgium. [26]

1993 In a 1993 application for funding, Professor David M. Warburton of the University of Reading in the United Kingdom asks Philip Morris for £32,000 to perform a study on the human use of legal substances (like alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, food, tea, tobacco). Warburton believed the outcome of the study would "show that it is the total abstainer from substance use who is abnormal." Philip Morris had previously funded Warburton from 1991-93 in the amount of $250,000 [1][2]

1993 Sept 24: Date given by ARISE for its third international conference -- this time in Brussels. The press release says

Health puritans accused of ruining quality of life, By Sue Plemingz
Puritanical health workers who dictate whether people should smoke or drink alcohol and coffee are trying to ruin the quality of life, a group of academics said on Friday. The academics, grouped under the Associates for Research and Substance Enjoyment (ARISE), said an opinion poll found that coffee, tea, alcohol, cigarettes and chocolates were among the most cited products used by people to relax or cope with stress .

The catch phrase which got the release widely publicised in the English press was the claims that 80% of Italians saw Sex as a typical pleasure compared with 62% of Britons.

Associates for Research in the Science of Enjoyment

1993 Oct At some time between September and December (probably October) the name of ARISE was marginally changed from "Substance Enjoyment" to "Science of Enjoyment". Computer search systems and medical database were just becoming popular, and this was probably a ploy to make it more difficult to discover the history of the organisation. [28]


1994 Aug 23 Warburton has written to chief disinformation staff executive at Philip Morris who was looking after the Asian and Latin American regions, Matthew Winokur]]. (He would not necessarily have known whether Winokur was "in the know" about the tobacco support of ARISE) <blockquoteARISE has become more active and we are planning some major events over the next year . Determined to spread the ARISE message further, we have produced a comprehensive information pack (enclosed) which covers all the key facts relating to the science of enjoyment. Also in¢Iluded are some recent press articles which demonstrate the growing trend towards a 'pleasure backlash' and a selection of Europe-wide coverage generated from ARISE's '93 research into the typical pleasures of everyday life.

Through August and September, ARISE will be undertaking research into stress, relaxation and pleasure in the office environment across 15 countries in Europe, USA and Asia -Pacific. Results will be published in November.

An important date for your diary is 23rd - 26th April 1995, when ARISE will be holding its next international meeting. The Conference will! be held in Amsterdam, one of Europe's most stunning cities, and we anticipate some very interesting debates and contributions. More details will be forwarded as soon as possible . In the meantime, look out for our September newsletter.[30]

1995 Mar 23: In an article: Tobacco Dream Team: Experts Who Insists Nicotine Isn't Addictive, Wall Street Journal, 23 March 1995 he espouses nicotine's mood-elevating effects but doesn't recognise its depressing effects.

2001: Professor Warburton released a study showing that people are intimidated by television chefs, who, he claimed, increase pressure on regular people to produce excellent dishes at dinner parties. Warburton concluded that these fears were causing a new syndrome to emerge that he called "Kitchen Performance Anxiety," or KPA. The physical symptoms of KPA included mental blocks during cooking, a rapid heart rate, difficulty in breathing, nausea, and headaches. BBC did a news report on KPA [31]. Not unexpectedly, Warburton's study was commissioned by the makers of the wine Piat d'Or wine. [32]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch resources


  1. Philip Morris Project Cosmic: Budget/Spending Status Budget/Budget review. February, 1991. 1 page. Bates No. 2023160927
  2. Philip Morris EXPENSE ELEMENTS ANALYSIS 910000 ZERO BASED OPERATING BUDGET Budget review. February 19, 1991. Bates No. 2023160930/0931

External resources

<tdo>search_term=David Warburton</tdo> <tdo archive="UK">Warburton confidential</tdo> Also search on David Warburton; Warburton,DM; and ARISE in the British American Tobacco Document Archive.