The New Puritanism

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This stub is a work-in-progress by the journalists's group. We are indexing the millions of documents stored at the San Francisco Uni's Legacy Tobacco Archive [1] With some entries you'll need to go to this site and type into the Search panel a (multi-digit) Bates number. You can search on names for other documents also.     Send any corrections or additions to


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

The tobacco industry probably didn't invent the term "The New Puritanism" but it certainly coordinated attempts to popularise it as a general idea, and to exploit it as an explanation for why health activists were targeting second-hand smoke and making (in their opinion) fallacious claims about its adverse health benefits.

We can trace the use of the term via the indexing system of the (now) 14 million tobacco industry documents available on San Francisco Universities tobacco document archive. Virtually every document where the term was used arises from an article contracted by the industry, or via a think-tank or institute which we now know was earning the industry's lobbying dollars. (And many documents in the archive record non-tobacco industry writings.)

Documents & Timeline

1948 Term probably first used in this context by Libertarian author John Gray in his first book on "Advertising bans" (republished and revived in 1991) He had a section (p29) "The new puritanism -- intolerance of individuals making divergent decisions." At this time it refered to the use of explicit sexual images. [2]

1979 May 15 Sherwin J Feinhandler, a Harvard Medical School anthropologist and a long-term tobacco industry 'helper' has written on contract an industry article (here in Revision) titled: "The Social Significance of Smokers". He criticises the environmental and health campaigns in terms of "New Puritans":

Like the campaign against littering, the campaign against smoking will not clean up our world. Yet the symbolic importance of that carmpaign reveals the nature of our "new puritanism". The pollution-free environment has become a moral, in addition to a health, issue. [3]

1986 Jun 24 PM Corporate Affairs Department is faxing a FYI document with a piece copied from the London Times (June 20) saying the Institute of Cancer Research in Surrey had found no evidence of health-harm from passive smoking. It also carries an article "Army's Smoking Ban reflects America's New Puritanism." [4]

{Note: The Institute of Cancer Research is a genuine multi-campus organisation attached as a college to the University of London. Surrey Cancer Research Institue promotes itself as a "virtual" research organisation which stores and circulates documents created by real research units.] [5]

1990 Jan and June The term "New Puritanism" emerged to mirror "The Nanny State", "political correctness" (PC), and the Libertarian claims for "Smaller Government" and less regulation. The term was revived in a tongue-in-cheek editorial by Daniel E Koshland in the Science magazine on 1 June 1990.

He claimed that the US was entering a new phase of prohibition on "smoking, drinking and gambling". He ridicules the idea that those 'downwind from smokers' could be endangered. [6] [7]

1986 Sep 28 George Harmon,(Journal editorial page editor), writing a column in the Jacksonville, Times-Union.

"I am getting sick and tired of people trying to outlaw my bad habits, including smoking. The law has taxed my cigarettes excessively. I am being accused of being a threat to the national economy by driving up health-care costs. After editorializing for years against racial injustice I find myself today in a minority group openly victimised by state-sanctioned segregation: I am forced to sit in the back of the plane because I smoke.

And now, if the New Puritanism has its way, I may wake up sombody and find myself deprived of the right to drive an automobile. Am I paranoid? Not a bit. The New Puritanism that is sweeping the country preaches that every social problem can be solved by passing a law."

1990 May 23 The New York Times has an article by Lawrence M Fisher, "Wine World On the Offensive" Apparently Patricia Schneider has set up AWARE American Wine Alliance for Research and Education -- a group formed to counter efforts by those who caution against drinking -- the 'neoprohibitionis' -- such as the consumer group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest. This has been filed along with Casey's article. [8]

1990 Aug 8 RJ Reynolds have an ETS Coordinating Committee file "EPA/ETS Editorial Board Outline". (which is approved by PR heads, Simmons, Smith, Oldaker, Blixt, Ward, from all the companies): I. Statements of position II. Facts supporting our position "Relative riks below three are generally considered weak. Also attacks meta-analysis. Relatives of smokers have different lifestyles than relatives of non-smokers III Broader context -- low-risk epidmiology He lists "Chemphobia ... fluoride, electric blankets. New Puritanism. [9]

1991 The term "New Puritanism" is being used by West Australian University lobbyist J R Johnson in the chapter title in a book written for the tobacco industry: Scientific Fact or Scientific Self-Delusion: Passive Smoking, Exercise and the New Puritanism. which is published by the Libertarian front-group/think-tank Australian Institute for Policy Study. (which later became the WA branch of the Institute for Public Affairs) [10]

1991 [A republication by SAU] of John Gray'sAdvertising bans : administrative decisions or matters of principle?. Gray had been a fellow of Jesus College, Oxford. His other books include "Hayek on Liberty." "Liberalism." etc. To write this book he was working at Bowling Green State University, Ohio. He seems to have been a close associate of John Luik.

Note that the book was published by the Social Affairs Unit in the UK, and the later 1991 introduction was written by Digby Anderson who ran the SAU for the IEA and tobacco companies. Copies of this republished version were in BAT, RJR and other files.

Note British Library says the original publication date was on Nov. 5 1948. [11]

1991 Aug 12 Time article "Busybodies: New Puritans
Repent The hour of the meddlers is at hand: And they are putting other Americans' views, behaviour and even jobs at increasing risk."'

1991 Dec Infotopics Restriction on Advertising Seminar with John Luik, John Gray of Oxford University, and David Stewart from the University of Southern California and also with Italians like Antonio Martino. [13]

1991 Dec 22 The Sunday Telegraph has an article by John Casey.

Down with the killjoys
Under the Puritans the celebration of Christmas was abolished and mince pies forbidden. The "New Puritanism" is rather less jolly. It sets out to warn us against the dangers of smoking, drinking, "drink driving", fatty food and sexually transmitted diseases. {snip] 'Passive smoking' seems largely a fantasy dreamed up by anti-smoking fanatics ... "

He then praises Aubudon Waugh for his campaign against strict alcohol-driving laws

"The point about the "New Puritanism" is that it is fundamentally intolerant, characteristically immune to evidence which might contradict its dearest believe, and always issues in campaigns and busybodiness. Indeed, a desire to boss people around might be seen as the secret spring which starts the whole New Puritan machine into action. [snip] The New Puritans seem guided by nothing more coherent than the lastest medical fad, and a general desire to boss people around. [14]

1992 Mar FOREST (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco) the UK Smoker's Rights association run by Ralph Harris (Lord Harris of High Cross, and Roger Bate) for the cigarette companies have sent out a press release on a conference "Risk, Freedom and Paternalism" as a counterblast to the forthcoming "No Smoking Day"

'Piers Merchant, the Public Affairs Director of the Advertising Association, is speaking on The New Puritanism

"Have we not learnt the human cost of the collective dictatorship? Those who ban words today, ban ideas tomorrow and ban people the day after. The new unhappy Puritans want to make everyone else unhappy too. Because they are neurotic about their lifestyle, they want everyone to be neurotic with them."

Other speakers who attacked the "No Smoking Day" and the concept of passive smoking were:

  • Simon Wolfe, Lecturer in Toxicology University College and Middlesex School of Medicine, London.
  • Professor Christie Davies, Sociologist at University of Reading
  • Gordon Read, Chairman of "Choice in Personal Safety" (against seat belts)


1994 May FOREST, the UK Smokers' Rights organisation has released "Passive Smoking, Scientific Method, and Corrupted Science" written by tobacco lobbyist/author Peter Berger and Ralph Harris. It promotes the JR Johnson piece (the IEA and Australia's IPA are sister organisations) [16]

Another undated Editorial by FOREST is "Beware the New Puritanism" [17]

1995 Apr The fake Associates for Research into the Science of Enjoyment (ARISE) workshop is labelled Living is more than surviving (ie "Forget health, just live life to the full = eat, drink and smoke") JR Johnson in Western Australia is a member of ARISE. [18]

The conman (David Warburton) who ran the ARISE pseudo association for Philip Morris "returned to the theme of the question of pleasure and everyday life by looking at what he called the New Puritanism. He described the New Puritanism as being made up of a Smorgasbord of often contradictory beliefs about the interests of the natural world."

"The New Puritanism was made up of a Smorgasbord of often contradictory beliefs about the interests of the natural world, the primacy of public policy over private behaviour, and the corruption of science. The New Puritanism has become the ideology of the late 20th century and has replaced more traditional ways of thinking about individuals, their relations to each other, society and, most particularly, pleasure. [Botsford]

Main speakers

  • Dr John Luik, Niagara Institute, Canada (long-term tobacco lobbyist)
  • Dr Jan Snel, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands (caffeine has +ve effect)
  • Prof. David Warburton, University of Reading, UK (ARISE lobbyist/organiser for PM)
Warburton had a joint paper with Ms Judy Suiter, Reading Uni and 'Competitive Edge' Peachtree City, Georgia.)
  • Prof. Christie Davies, sociologist (male), Uni of Reading (deprivation of pleasure makes people criminal)
  • Prof. Ian Hindmarch from Uni of Surrey (nicotine, caffeine and chocolate improve cognitive functions)
  • Dr Geoff Lowe (alcohol makes you creative)
  • Prof Keith Botsford Journalism and History, Boston Uni USA
  • Dr Digby Anderson (Social Affairs Unit/IEA) in London (Was an extension of the 'Nanny State')
  • Dr Faith Fitzgerald, Uni of California, Davis (worked closely with Warburton and ARISE)
  • Prof James McCormick, Community Medicine, Trinity College Dublin & ex-Pres. Irish College of General Practitioners
  • Prof Claude Javeau, Uni Libre de Bruxelle
[All above are well-paid tobacco scientists. It is difficult to know how many of those listed below are genuine scientist just on an all-expenses-paid holiday that promises good food and wine, and how many earned tobacco dollars.]

Other speakers

Warburton presented a 16 country survey commissioned by ARISE looking at the ways in which people relieve stress.

From Research at the University of Reading's own laboratory, scientific evidence showed that a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, a cigarette, a few pieces of chocolate -- these sort of little pleasures - calm people and make them feel better. Thus, these little pleasures can be an antidote to the stressors of life and helm painting an overall harmonious lifestyle.[19]

[Note: if this relief from stress is so beneficial to the health of smokers, then the carcinogenic compounds in the smoke must be even more deadly than we thought … since, despite this release, smokers die much earlier than non-smokers]

1995 Jul 25 Philip Morris's Draft ETS planning document (from Matt Winokur's Corporate Affairs office). It shows the development of arguments:

  • Accommodation of ETS in the workplace: IAQ depends on air exchange not tobacco smoking.
  • Need to use only "sound" scientific practices
"Develop/publish materials on risks of other items (i.e..Chlorinated water)
Coalition of interested parties who would carry "sound" science message forwared.
Social Acceptability: Publicise "new Puritanism" or prohibitionist movement of the US using various examples: demonstrate concept of "slippery slope".


1997 May 3 (or Mar 5) Article in Pioneer Press, St Paul by Maggie Gallagher, a UPS syndicated columnist who is also an "affiliate scholar at the Institute of American Values." Her column title is "New Puritans are turning to the bottle" She quotes Bill Bennett as saying that after dealing with the scourge of tobacco the next target of the moralist is Demon Rum." This is a slippery slope article: suggesting that the moralists will go onto ban everything because "they lack any sense of proportion". [21]

1997 (Date uncertain) Tana Wells is publishing a booklet (prepublication copy) of 77 pages Fear or Living through AGORA, which claims to be a 'Registered Non-Profit Association Founded in the Public Interest' [Moanar a Morges, Switzerland]. It begins ...

Meet the crazy cast of American culture today. Meet the False Alarmist, the Lifestyle Police and their allies, the New Puritans. Meet the Culturally Correct Corporations, the Right Brigade, and the Self-Tort Crybabies.
The New Cultural Imperialism."

[She must get only paid for Capitalised Words.

It goes on to quote a large number of professional tobacco lobbyists from various academic institutions -- most of them members of ARISE. Apparently we shouldn't be so concerned with health because "Life Is Dangerous" -- even milk.

[This book is a synthesis of the junk-science claims made by junk-man Steve Milloy of TASSC and the claims of academics working thorough ARISE. It could have been mocked up in a weekend from the proceedings of an ARISE workshop. And it has been sent to British-American Tobacco for approval (and possibly for some additions and corrections).

In fact by reading between the lines, this book provides an index listing of which members ARISE were being paid by tobacco (probably most of them), and what tactical messages they were expected to promote.