There's nothing particularly surprising here, but it's maddening nonetheless:

Big tobacco, the new politics, and the threat to public health -

With several Tory leadership contenders sympathetic to its ideology, the Institute of Economic Affairs is closer to power than it has been for decades. In an exclusive investigation, Jonathan Gornall reveals how the organisation is funded by British American Tobacco and has links with senior conservative ministers. After orchestrating a series of attacks on public health initiatives, the IEA may now hold the key to No 10

Whatever the eventual consequences of Brexit for the NHS,12 an article published in the Daily Telegraph in March made it clear that an even greater threat to public health in the UK may emerge from the battle for control of the Conservative Party.

In an essay published on 31 March, titled “The next Tory leader must be a bullish libertarian,” the director general of the free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) set out what amounted to a manifesto for the new party leader.

The leadership election, wrote Mark Littlewood, was a chance “to rediscover an agenda supportive of . . . free markets and a smaller state.” Theresa May’s successor should ensure that “the plethora of censorious and hectoring measures over what British adults choose to eat, drink and smoke must come to an end.”3

What the IEA says matters. Credited by Margaret Thatcher in 1979 for having “created the climate of opinion which made our victory possible,”4 its free market fundamentalism is now back in vogue. “Bullish libertarianism” appeals to a significant faction of the Conservative Party, and, as the showcasing of Littlewood’s prescription in the Telegraph attests, any prospective leader is likely to emerge from the ranks of those who subscribe to the IEA’s ideology.

The institute has a longstanding commitment to dismissing public health initiatives as “nanny state” interventions.56 Its recent research publications have challenged the childhood obesity strategy,7 dismissed “sin taxes” as regressive,8 and ridiculed the link910 between fast food outlets and obesity.11 In the past year alone it has issued more than a dozen statements criticising everything from alcohol controls to sugar taxes as “pointless,” “absurd,” and “draconian” (see box B).

All of this might not be quite so worrying were it not for two facts: the IEA is or has been funded by some of the very industries that stand to gain commercially from its attacks on public health initiatives, and it is connected—ideologically, financially, or both—to no fewer than 25 serving Conservative MPs, including several candidates for May’s job (see box A).

The IEA is secretive about its funding sources, but The BMJ can report that the organisation is part funded by British American Tobacco. In the past it has also taken money from the gambling, alcohol, sugar, and soft drink industries. Meanwhile, politicians with links to the IEA seem to be progressing ever closer to power. The concern is that public health policies could be put at risk under a new Tory leadership, including current plans for calorie labelling and for advertising restrictions designed to tackle childhood obesity, as well as progress towards a minimum unit price for alcohol (see box C).