Stephen R Eyers

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Stephen Ronald Eyers was a staff employee of the Institute of Economic Affairs in London, and a favourite of Lord Harris of High Cross who ran the libertarian think-tank during the era of Margaret Thatcher.

In November 1978 the PR company of Campbell-Johnson suggested to British-American Tobacco that they should investigate:

"the establishment, with industry blessing, of an independent group or association of tobacco users.

This would act primarily in the interests of the ultimate consumers of tobacco, though in doing so it would obviously be likely to serve those of the whole tobacco trade as well. It would therefore be important to secure from the outset its complete independence of the industry, both in policy and action.

It should, indeed, be as free to challenge the industry as to take issue with the anti-smokers.
[When the idea was originally mooted, it was thought that it might be difficult to launch in a way that did not lay the industry open to the taunt that it was setting up a front organization in its own defence."]

This eventually became FOREST (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco), the first major Smoker's Rights group in the UK. Stephen Eyers was given the job of running the operation, and he was well funded both by BAT and Philip Morris to trot off around the world encouraging tobacco companies to set up similar organisations in their own country.

TimeLine

1983 /E: Hamish Maxwell, the new CEO of Philip Morris has circulated a memo with a number of main points.

  • FOREST "In Australia too, through FOREST, we have awakened the public in the tax area with carefully orchestrated campaigns." [[1]]

1984 Sep 19 -21: FOREST - Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco, which was run by Stephen Eyres, was being introduced by Geoff Bible at a Philip Morris marketing meeting in New York -- accompanied by Bryan Simpson, John Dollisson and Paul Dietrich. [[2]]


1991 Jun 13: Clive Turner's note about a proposed Asian Tobacco Council conference (mainly of PR staff) to discuss:

  • 1. Opposition
  • 2. Minors and
  • 3. ETS ("The BIG ONE").
His suggestion for keynote speakers:
  • Lord Harris of High Cross, who is Chairman of FOREST, and what's known as a a cross-bencher in the House of Lords, which broadly speaking means he is an independent, not tied to either main party. He is a passionate believer in freedom of the individual, but for many years his main interest has been in running the organisation known as the Institute for Economic Affairs, which is a sort of think tank on economic issues, trusted by successive UK Governments to give a steer on such matters.

    He is a good speaker, if eccentric in style, but he always has something interesting to say, if controversial, and he might prove a draw for the media if he were to be invited here.

  • Bernard Levin is too well known to need much description. As a regular contributor to the London Times, and many other publications, and a frequent visitor to Hong Kong, Levin's trenchant and entertaining views on the anti-tobacco brigade are copiously documented. But he cannot be bought, in the sense that he might not agree to align himself too closely with a tobacco conference. Were he to be planning a visit this way at that time, he might be persuaded to lend us his opinions for a keynote speech, and he would be very good. He was once invited to address a tobacco sponsored gathering in New York, and he came, but this was done through a third party Foundation, and he felt more comfortable with such an arrangement.
    [NOTE: Levin became a regular member of the ARISE international lobby group for tobacco.]
  • Keith Waterhouse is a playwright, author and journalist of considerable reputation in the UK. He writes regularly for the middle of the road newspaper, the Daily Mail. He constantly ridicules and laughs at the anti-tobacco brigade, and although a confirmed non-smoker, his dislike of the pressures now so apparent on smokers is like a shining beacon in terms of the way the media in Britain normally treats tobacco issues. He is a most entertaining speaker, but again, he probably cannot be persuaded to align himself too directly with us. He values his independence. But he would certainly appeal to the media here were he to make a visit.

[[3]]