John H Lyons

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John Lyons was the Tobacco Institute's Information Director. He came to the tobacco industry from the field of aviation, having worked with Mark Gerchick andJudith Richards of Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker, in Washington, D.C on airline smoking issues in 1984-5. He only lasted at the TI for a few years, having either retired or been terminated in late 1989.

Documents & Timeline

1984 Jan 25 Judith Hope's letter to Susan Stuntz at the Tobacco Institute.

Aviation Issues Management consulting work.
As events unfold at the Department of Transportation, the FAA, and in Congress, we will be looking forward to implementing additional aspects of the Tobacco Institute's Aviation Issues Management recommendations. Mark Gerchick, John Lyons, and I look forward to meeting with you and Peter Sparber on these matters in the near future.

1986 June: At about this time he must have joined the Tobacco Institute to take over its Information Center.

1986 Jun 12-13 The Tobacco Institute's College of Tobacco Knowledge has brief biogs of all participants:

John Lyons : Legal assistant, Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, D.C. After graduating from Harvard University in 1983, John worked for the House Energy and Commerce Committee researching trade issues. Currently, he is involved with aviation matters and political research. John is marrying his high school sweetheart later this month. [3]

1986 Jul 18 Lyon is apologising to Peter Sparber that he hasn't yet had time to draw up his plans and budgets for the 1987 Information Center activities. He is coming to grips with the new computer system. [4]

1987 Oct 19 The Tobacco Institute's Walter Woodson (PR) has sent to the staff and external consultants a list of ...
"Scientific Witness Appearance Requirements"
His list goes to Covington & Burling (C&B). ACVA/HBI, the Tobacco Institute staff and;

1987 Dec 28 Peter Sparber has prepared the Tobacco Institute's "Public Affairs, Management Plan, Progress Report (to Dec 1987)" The staff are dealing with a number of issues:

  • Excise Tax -- run by Jeff Ross
  • Public Smoking -- Susan Stuntz, Chip Foley, Sharon Ransom
  • General Coaltions -- Susan Stuntz
  • Advertising Issues -- Fred Panzer
  • Scientific Affairs -- Peter Sparber
  • Media Relations -- Brennan Moran
  • Accidental Fire -- Lisa Osborne
  • Misc -- Anne Dedick runs Production Services.
    John Lyons deals with Information


1988 Jun 2 Fred Panzer, the chief Democrat (ex-President Johnson aide) political lobbyist at the Tobacco Institute has written to thank those involved in yesterday's Brainstorming Session. (cc to Susan Stuntz):

They have 43 possible ideas of which only a few deserve mention:

  • Create a "Golden Fleece Award" for addiction research into coffee (ie. trying to deflect addiction claims)
  • promote "Enough is enough" theme - (Congress is disproportionally wasting time on smoking)
  • Dukakis presidency ... means big trouble
  • Waxman hearings will give publicity to anti-smoking position.
  • Free speech and slippery slope artuments? Union angle?
  • Convenience store coalition + minorities and ethnic elements
  • Replicate and update the Peat Marwick economic impact study on advertising bans.
  • Hire a 'shrink' to rid TI staff and its consultants of guilt feelings.
  • Anti's should be classed as "special interests" with "selfish motives."
  • Develop a CART-like coalition of vending machine companies. [CART=Coalition Against Regressive Taxation]
  • The claim of 350,000 deaths from smoking and loss of productivity needs to be countered in [Congress] hearings.


1988 Jun 17 Shook Hardy & Bacon organised an industry conference in London, following the Perry Conference, to discuss scientific research and strategies on ETS, globally.

[Lobbyist Professor Roger Perry of Imperial College London ran a set-up conference on indoor air for the tobacco industry.]

Report: "The Department of Transportation was studying air quality aboard commercial airlines as a result of the 2 hour ban. Proposals for work were to go out to scientists. With the continuing deterioration in public attitudes, the Centre for Indoor Air Research (Tom Osdene) and the Tobacco Institute (John Lyons) were trying to put forward a more balanced approach. [8]

[They had banned smoking on all flights with duration of under two hours. The industry correctly perceived this to be the thin end of the wedge to ban smoking on airlines entirely.
[Lyons was still working for Paul Hastings Janofsky and Walker at this time so they must have installed him at the Tobacco Institute. He became a TI staff member shortly after.]

1989 Mar 21 John Lyons (VP State Activities) has called the Tobacco Institute disinformation staff and their external consultants together for a one-day brainstorming session on "Public Smoking" problems. His agenda details the main problems they were facing:

  • Cigarette tax increases have been proposed in 35 states and DC.
    • One state has already passed a tax increase. [Wyoming + 4¢]
    • Five states have defeated excise increases
    • Bills are anticipated in another 8-13 states.
  • Tax increases on smokeless tobacco is also pending in 18 states
    • One state has defeated excise increases
    • Bills are anticipated in another 8-13 states.
  • Taxes or restrictions on the use of certain packaging materials have been proposed in 17 states. (with another 3 expected)
    "Fire-Safe" standards for cigarettes are proposed for four states.
    • Legislation is anticipated in another 4 to 10 states.
  • Proposals to 'earmark' existing cigarette taxes have surfaced in 27 states, and Wyoming has since passed a law.
    • These funds are targetted to be used for health care, smoking cessation programs, fire protection, anti-tobacco education, and cancer research.[and many more]
    • Earmarking has been defeated in Mississippi and Wisconson.
  • Toxic Waste laws, like California's Prop 65 (Safe Drinking Water Act) have been proposed in four new states. (Hawaii has delayed consideration)
  • Indoor Air Quality standards have been proposed in ten states (and another 4 potentially)
  • Cigarette Sample Bans have been proposed in 13 states and passed in Nebraska and Utah.
    • Hawaii, South Dakota and Washington bills to stop this type of sampling among young people have been defeated.
    • Sampling legislation is anticipated in another 9-21 states.
  • Legislation to ban tobacco advertising has been proposed in 9 states with another 8 pending. (Hawaii has blocked the legislation)
    • Another 9 to 18 states are considering a ban.
  • Bills to expand or introduce smoking restrictions are being considered in 40 states. [Utah has already banned school smoking]
    • 21 states will introduce workplace smoking restrictions.
    • 13 states are to try bans of public smoking only
    • Washington State has banned smoking in some public transport (ferries)
    • Legislation is anticipated in another 4-6 states
    • 5 states have killed smoking ban legislation.
    • Virginia has 'Pre-emptive' legislation to block workplace advertising bans except by the employer Six other states have similar pre-emptive legislation.
  • Death certificates to show 'contribution' of tobacco use. Eight states have legislation requiring this and six others are considering bills.
  • Vending machine sales restrictions to limit youth access are proposed in 14 states. Georgia, Maryland and Washington have defeated similar bills.
  • Sales taxes on advertising expenditure has been imposed by three states. One has rejected.
  • Pre-emptive bills: Eight states propose to prohibit employment discrimination based on smoking and non-smoking.
    • Similar legislation is being considered for 6 more states.


1989 Aug Lyons was in charge of the recruitment of Academic ETS Scientific Consultants. The process or selecting new consultants is explained:

  • packets of literature on ETS were sent to prospecive consultants.
  • they examine the comments to see whether there is an 'anti-smoking bias'
  • If not, then they move to a second vetting
  • the lawyers from Covington & Burling have a discussion with them and explain the payment system and the control
  • those still indicating that they will consult with the tobacco industry will then pass through a training program (different at different times)
  • they then await assignments. (witness, letter-to-editor writing, articles, etc)
  • contact and payments are handled through the lawyers.

1989 Sep 15 John Lyons and Brennan Dawson of the Tobacco Institute reported to the ETS Coordinating Committee that the tobacco industry had lost fight over airline domestic flight smoking bans in the Senate. The industry needs new strategies.

TI's New ETS Strategies

  1. they should try to make the media more skeptical. (of claims that ETS was harmful)
  2. they shoud keep hammering away on the inconclusiveness of the studies.
  3. they should address the issue of scientific integrity, by
    1. Showing that science is sometimes politically motivated (using Alar and cholesterol as examples.
    2. Show bad science is costly - hire economic experts to produce a paper or two and perhaps an Op-ed series. (Note: this led to the Cash-for-Comments Economists Network)
    3. Produce a discussion of the peer review process in terms undertandable to laypersons (limitations and weaknesses) using ETS and risk assessment as examples.
    4. [Claim] the anti-smoking movement and its scientist-supporters have a for-profit motive. (They want to grab headlines)
    5. Show that the reporting of scince leads to information overload (use risk-assessment as example)

Brennan Dawson then spoke on progams targeted to journalists (partly paraphrased)

  • foreign media coverage is less negative than US. So the TI has concluded that it cannot simply do more with available US scientists. The hook for attracting journalistic attention is to make available some foreign scientists coupled with the "story" that ETS receives a different sort of play overseas."
(John Rupp of C&B was trying to coordinate visiting collaborative scientists)
  • They have a Judson Wells article and 'White paper' that they are trying to shop around to the lay media. They also plan to "approach a big-time journalistic figure to write an article for publication in a journalism magazine."
  • The TI is working on an ETS scientific briefing book for journalists that they will first 'test-market' before releasing it to environmental reporters (before releasing it to science writers)
  • Lawyer Clausen Ely (C&B) discussed the progress of scientific recruitments and the vetting of the First team consisting of:

1989 Sep 22 A letter from John Lyons, Academic ETS Scientific Consultants, expands on the members of his list: [11]

1990 Jan 2 A Tobacco Industry list of employees who have retired, or been terminated in late 1989.