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DeSmogBlog Truly Sorry About Heartland Institute "Inaccuracy"

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Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast, tireless defender of big tobacco and trenchant critic of climate science advocates, has demanded that the DeSmogBlog “retract an inaccurate statement” that we had included in a post challenging Heartland to a debate over the harmful effects of tobacco.

We would like to make that retraction here and now:

The DeSmogBlog had reported in this post that the Heartland position on tobacco was “on the record,” and we included this quote as an example of the material you could find on the Heartland website: “Instead of raising cigarette taxes, simple justice demands that cigarette taxes be reduced to zero. In fact, states should consider taping a dime or a quarter to every pack of cigarettes as a way of thanking smokers for reducing the burden on taxpayers!”“Cigarettes offer real benefits for the elderly, the clumsy, the forgetful, and the easily distracted. (These benefits have been intentionally underplayed by the public health community.)”

In his complaint today, Bast said this is not a fair reflection of Heartland’s official view. Rather, it “is from an article that appeared in a 2004 issue of Chronicles magazine, and is a tongue-in-cheek account of the young writer’s decision to start smoking.”

We at the DeSmogBlog apologize. We are famously inept at figuring out which Heartland pronouncements are intended to be satirical and, on this occasion, we obviously leaped to an incorrect conclusion when we found the quote under a Heartland heading that reads: “Get the facts about secondhand smoke, the social costs of smoking, and anti-tobacco lawsuits.”

Our mistake.

The DeSmogBlog would also like to thank Bast for directing us to the lead essay under Heartland’s “Smoker’s Lounge.” Co-authored by Bast with Maureen Martin (Hearland’s senior fellow for legal affairs), the essay offers the most spirited argument for smoking and “smokers’ rights” that we have seen in a decade. Especially compelling (although not entirely clear) is the paragraph that reads: “Instead of raising cigarette taxes, simple justice demands that cigarette taxes be reduced to zero. In fact, states should consider taping a dime or a quarter to every pack of cigarettes as a way of thanking smokers for reducing the burden on taxpayers!”

So, again, with juicy morsels like that lying around, the DeSmogBlog is extremely sorry to have chosen something that the Heartland Institute could – under any circumstances – deny.

We retract the earlier post completely and apologize unreservedly.

So, given that we have now met President Bast’s condition (“Before we can discuss a debate on smoking, you need to retract an inaccurate statement you made in your original post on the subject”), we are looking forward to working out the details for a public debate on the dangers (or even the apparent public benefits) of tobacco, in all its wondrous and addictive forms.

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