Associates for Research into the Science of Enjoyment

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Alcohol badge.jpg This article is part of the Spinwatch public health oriented Alcohol Portal project.

ARISE (Associates for Research into the Science of Enjoyment) was a front group which worked to deny the risks of the consumption of tobacco and alcohol. It was run by the PR agency Fishburn Hedges. The group describe themselves as an ‘apolitical affiliation of independent scientists and academics’ who conduct research into some of life’s pleasures including chocolate, tea, coffee, alcohol and tobacco. Their research concludes that partaking in such pleasurable experiences can be beneficial to health and lowers stress, going so far as to claim ‘higher resistance to cancer and less risk of damage to the stomach and heart’ [1] . These statements are in direct opposition to other medical studies into the consequences of tobacco use which have proven the negative impact on health. ARISE follows up their claims with criticism of such health information initiatives, arguing that the so called ‘health police’ ‘could be causing more harm than good’ [2]

Tobacco Industry

Professor David Warburton of the University of Reading, one of the leaders of the group, published a number of articles in medical journals which questioned findings regarding the addictive qualities of nicotine. Warburton also wrote of his contempt for ‘health scares’ which he claimed were often ill founded and could lead to health problems because of the guilt and stress cause [3] The danger of such a group is the widespread coverage it received and the fact that the public were misled into believing research was based on independent medical inquiry.

In an article published in The Guardian George Monbiot found that between September 1993 and March 1994 the group generated 195 newspaper articles, radio and television interviews. Taking just one example of such coverage, the December 22, 1996 issue of The Sunday Times includes the article ‘Eat, drink and be merry!’ which discusses the research findings of ARISE. The article includes a quote from Warburton saying ‘a few puffs on a cigarette’ was proven to make people happier and thus improve their health. However the same article also states that although the group admit to receiving funding from the alcohol and chocolate industries they ‘stop short of taking money from the tobacco industry’. This claim from ARISE is proven to be false by the internal documents of the BAT company.

Monbiot also writes of his discovery of documents which prove the involvement of tobacco companies including Philip Morris, BAT and Rothmans in the funding of the group. Documents relating specifically to the contributions from BAT are also to be found. One example being a letter dated September 1991 from Professor Warburton giving an invoice to BAT for their donation of £13.000 to fund a group meeting in Venice. [4]

Elizabeth A. Smith of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences of the University of California (San Francisco) published the results of extensive research on the reach of ARISE activities in The European Journal of Public Health[1] in July 2006. Smith concludes that there is an 'industry attempt to directly undermine popular understanding of the hazards of smoking (...)' In the abstract of her article she states that 'Between 1989 and 2005, at least 846 articles appeared in the European, Australian, and US press mentioning ARISE, its members, or its activities. Many of these articles presented two themes: smoking was a healthful ‘pleasure’, and health promotion practices, including cessation, were stressful and unhealthy. Few articles included responses from health advocates, questioned ARISE's claims, or mentioned its funding. Conclusions: ARISE successfully planted stories in the press, designed to allay the health concerns of smokers and to discredit health promotion information and practices. ARISE's later interest in food suggests that counterfactual ‘health’ messages on almost any topic could be promoted similarly, regardless of their implausibility.'[2]


Other members of ARISE specialise in praising the healthy effects of drinking alcohol. Jan Snel of the University of Amsterdam, published a book in 2002 with the title Alcohol, de nuchtere feiten, Gunstige effecten van matige alcoholconsumptie (Alcohol, the simple facts, benevolent effect of moderate consumption of alcohol). He is interviewed with much approval on the website Bier en Gezondheid (Beer and Health), [5], a website claiming to be neutral but financed by the Association of Belgian Brewers. In the interview, titled 'Drinking, a Healthy Pleasure', Snel dismisses government campaigns to discourage the consumption of alcohol and states that the government could better point at the advantages of a moderate consumption of alcohol.



  1. Elisabeth A. Smith, The European Journal of Public Health, Online version, July 12 2006
  2. Elisabeth A. Smith, The European Journal of Public Health, Online version, July 12 2006
  1. BAT-library
  2. George Monbiot, Guardian Weekly
  3. George Monbiot, Guardian Weekly
  4. BAT-library
  5. Website Bier en Gezondheid, interview with prof. Jan Snel, June 05 2002