Raymond Johnstone

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

Ray Johnstone from the Physiology Department of the University of Western Australia, claimed the title of 'Professor' when overseas. His fullname was Jeffrey Raymond Johnstone and he said that he had a PhD in Physiology from that university. He was certainly a libertarian tobacco lobbyist who worked through, and with the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) which is based in Melbourne and linked to one in Perth WA. The Perth Australian Institute for Public Policy later merged with Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) under the direction of Liberal politicians John Hyde and the Kemp family.

Johnstone was also the author of a tobacco-funded tome "Health Scare: the Misuse of Science in Public Health Policy" which one American PR company (promoting his use to Philip Morris) suggested was "much maligned in certain circles".

He claims at various times to be "Professor" and "lecturer" at the university, and a "Senior Fellow" with Australia's main health-research granting body, the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC). [2] but the University of WA says that it has no record of his graduation: http://www.studentadmin.uwa.edu.au/welcome/award_verification_service

In support of the tobacco industry, he said that smoking, alcohol and heroin have no impact on how long we live, and that "Evidence linking passive smoking and lung cancer is badly flawed." [3] He was later paired with an imported Canadian academic John Luik at the IPA to write another book exonerating smoking as a serious health problem. Luik was brought to Australia to discount the projected value of plain packaging legislation as an anti-smoking measure. Australian has since become the first country in the world to enact and enforce this regulation, and it's value in reducing smoking rates has been extraordinary.

The main message promoted by Johnstone was that virtually all the science supporting the anti-smoking position was "junk science". This eventually resulted in the IPA planning to bring Steve Milloy of TASSC to Australia to promote the junk-science message for the tobacco industry.

Documents & Timeline

1985 Aug 19 "Smoking and Burch," This is a joint attack by notorious tobacco scientist, Carl Seltzer of Harvard's Peabody Museum and J Ray Johnstone who was then working as a tobacco lobbyist via the Australian Institute of Public Policy. They have both written letters to the editor of the Australian Medical Journal to defend Philip RJ Burch, (Leeds Uni) - who was one of the industry's longest-serving academic helpers. Seltzer was Burch's personal friend, and he and Johnstone claim that the [[WhiteHall study|Whitehall] and MRFIT studies supported Burch's contention that smoking does not cause heart disease.

However as a physical antrhopologist, Seltzer says: "I do not comment on lung cancer, since that is not my area of expertise"; but Johnstone did, attacking these two very significant American studies showing high rates of Coronary Heart Disease, even among those who had quit smoking Both studies showed a decrease in CHD among those who quitted cigarettes, although, at this time the improvement was non-significant in scientific terms (not above 95% certain).

A correspondent, Pierce, (probably G Barry Pierce) an opponent of Burch, claimed that the MRFIT study supports the smoking hypothesis (That smoking causes CHD). Johnstone then plays a clever game in his letter by seeming to attack Burch, saying:

He neglects to mention that this study found both lung cancer mortality and total mortality to be higher in the group that gave up smoking. The increases were again statistically non-signifieant but they hardly support the smoking hypothesis.

[Note: The reason why both lung cancer and total mortality would be higher in the group which gave up smoking is simply because, when diagnosed with lung-cancer, most people immediately give up.]


1991 Mar 15 David Bacon (BAT) has just been sent copies (plural) of Ray Johnstone's book by Gill Pollard (WD&HO Wills). They marvel at Johnstone' reaoning. [4]

1987 Dec 19 The Liberal (conservative) Australian politician John Hyde has written an article for Murdoch's Australian newspaper: Warning: the intervention of Nanny State is a health hazard. Hyde owns and controls the Perth think-tank, the Australian Institute for Public Policy, through which Johnstone works. Hyde dismisses all health-activism associated with the large corporations (following the Margaret Thatcher model), along with the ridiculous idea that problems can arise from VDU radiation, asbestos in ceilings, EMF and atomic radiation, depletion of non-renewable resources, the destruction of the environment, AIDS, and holes in the ozone layer. He says "doomsaying has such a poor record -- so far." (He died in the early 2010s)

Hyde then moves on to health and environmental programs which interfere with our liberties: like smoking tobacco in aeroplanes, and governments trying to change our lifestyle with Quit Smoking campaigns

Dr Ray Johnstone (University of Western Australia, Department of Physiology) has summarised the major experimental and clinical literature. The overwhelming evidence of a huge sample is that smokers live as long as anybody else.

He forgets to tell his readers that Johnstone works for him, and that he works for the tobacco industry via his 'think-tank'. https://www.industrydocumentslibrary.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/tgmv0120

1990 Oct 25 Smokepeace 90 was an international conference organized in Helsinki (25-27 Oct 1990) supposedly by the "Considerate Smokers Association" (Finnish). The tobacco industry did the major part of the practical arrangements and paid for the conference. They also transported participants and experts to the conference from 22 different countries.[5]

The main thrust of the conference was to challenge the medical evidence against passive smoking using a team of cooperative doctors (However only one had an actual medical degree).

from Japan,

  • Dr Choichi Nabatame who described the supposed link of cigarette smoking and lung cancer as "just a medical theory."He has been a tobacco helper 'since at least the early 1980s':
  • Dr Genshire Idei - Chairman of Japan Pathology Academy, former rector of Chiba University) He maintains that all attempts to establish a causal correlation have failed
  • Dr Hiroshi Sato - Commissioner of the Japan Pathology Academy -- dismissive of causal connection
    From elsewhere (including published materials):
  • Tage Voss -- Danish physician (He ran the HEN-RY smoker's group). Popular TV personality
  • J Ray Johnstone (West Australian) member of Institute of Public Affairs, a think-tank/lobby firm which worked for the Australian tobacco industry.
        Johnston quoted extensively from his recent IPA publication for the tobacco industry, and distributed copies.
  • Robert Tollison (George Mason Uni, USA) who ran the cash-for-comments network of compliant economists for the tobacco industry.
  • Padrick McGuinness (flambouyant contrarian columnist for Murdoch's Australian newspaper) Associated with the IPA.
  • Dr John Hyde -- Australian libertarian politician (who gave himself a medical degree for the occasion). Hyde was leader of the 'Dry' faction in the Liberal Coalition and the director of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA).
  • Dr Barry Bracewell-Milnes - UK Conservative lobbyist; company director. Also active in the UK smoker's rights organization, FOREST.

This conference followed a similar one held in Vienna a couple of days earlier. [6] [7]

1991 [From a 1994 Report]

In a recent publication (Health, Lifestyle & Environment, The Social Affairs Unit, 1991, pp. 61) Prof. Raymond Johnstone, of the University of Western Australia, summarized the results of 26 studies on lung cancer: some of these consider only men, others only women and others both men and women all non smokers exposed to ETS.

Out of these, 20 do not notice any association. Futhermore, out of 51 situations of exposure (smoking partner, workplace, leisure), 45 do not notice any connection.

The lack of a positive association in the majority of the examples leads to consider the possibility of a very weak link, unless we consider as undoubtedly persuasive the minority of the studies considered. But among these there are the studies by Hirayama and Trichopoulos, the low scientific credibility of which we discussed above.


[Note Digby Anderston of the Social Affairs Unit in London was a well-paid long-term supporter of the tobacco industry]]

In this year Johnstone also attended the Manhattan Institute Conference on Risk (dubious) run in association with the Social Affairs Unit. (Type-in Bates Number) 2046768359

1991 Jan 12-13 The Weekend Australian, a newspaper owned by Philip Morris board member Rupert Murdoch, carried a story: "Drink, smoke and be merry, for tomorrow we may die anyway. Doctor feels good about indulgence.: It is a large story quoting "Dr Ray Johnstone" who has just completed a book commissioned by the Australian Institute for Public Policy, which argues that most public health measures are an utter waste of money. He runs out the old shibboleth that drinking too much water can kill you, so (he intimates) smoking in moderation is OK. https://www.industrydocumentslibrary.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/jlyl0031

1991 Sep 16 Kay Thomas Packett of Philip Morris Washington is circulating material from five conferences recently attended by Tobacco Institute representatives. The external list goes to RJ Reynolds, Shook Hardy & Bacon lawyers, air-testing company executives Walter Decker, Lawrence Halfen, Larry Holdcomb, Joe Pedelty, Jack Peterson, David Weeks, Jolanda Janczewski, and Gray Robertson.

It includes details of a May 21 tobacco-funded confererence run by the Manhattan Institute and London's pseudo-Social Affairs Unit at the Harvard Club, Boston. This had numerous tobacco-stained scientist as speakers. We now know that they were all paid systematically by the tobacco industry: Peter Berger, James LaFanu, Peter Skrabanek, Walter E Williams, Ray Johntone ("Fellow, University of Western Australia"), Digby Anderson (SAU, London), Robert Browning, Walter Olson (Manhattan Institute), Aaron Wildavsky (Uni of Cal. Berkley)

... some just far-right corporate promoters, always available for such conferences, like Irving Kristol,
... also some unconfirmed, (but highly dubious) Peter Finch (Monash Uni, Aust), Mark Mills (CSTN Wash.DC). Leonard A Sagan (EPRI)


1996 Aug 2 Shook Hardy and Bacon, inform the tobacco industry via their ETS/IAQ Report that Ray Johnstone has just published a critique, in association with Canadian John Luik attacking the NHMRC draft report on ETS. In "Smokescreen: Passive Smoking and Public Policy" published by the IPA, Johnstone and Luik attack the NHMRC and argue that the causal relationship between ETS and disease had not been established. (Both were paid generously for their services, as was the IPA) https://www.industrydocumentslibrary.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/xklj0076 The conservative newspaper columnist Frank Devine who worked for PM Board Member Rupert Murdoch, also attacked the report. Praising Luik and Johnstone, and maintaining that the NHMRC was biased and sloppy in its analysis. https://www.industrydocumentslibrary.ucsf.edu/tobacco/docs/#id=tlyk0073

1998 Sep The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) has published an article "Playing the Man: The Modern Inquisition of 'Concerned' Science" by Andrew MacIntyre in Australia. It accused activists from the 'political left' of misusing and 'inverting' science, and abandoning the approach of rational inquiry and objectivity.

His examples of this perversion are: greenhouse gases; AIDS; leaded petrol; child sexual abuse, and tobacco and health which all deny scientific evidence. The man being played was Dr Julian H Lee: "a distinguished thoracic physician, and a tireless worker in (the tobacco smoke) field. It doesn't tell the readers that Lee was paid by the tobacco industry to run the Australian Tobacco Working Group (TWG) of doctors who had sold out to the cigarette companies -- as well as being the State President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA). Ray Johnstone has sent this to various members of PM International, and it has been relayed to Cathy Ellis, Edward Sanders, and Roger Walk -- three of the top science-corrupters in the business. [8]