A Climate Deniers take on Tobacco Smoke

A Climate Deniers take on Tobacco Smoke
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It’s no secret that many of the people and organizations funded by cigarette companies to defend “smoker’s rights” and downplay the harmful effect of tobacco smoke have been involved in the energy industry-funded campaign to downplay the serious effects of climate change.

No group typifies this more than the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based “think” tank that simultaneously operates the “smoker’s lounge” and “global warming facts” sections on their website. The former arguing for “smoker’s rights” and railing on about the need for “sound science” on tobacco issues and the latter arguing that “global warming is not a crisis.”

It’s no coincidence that the Heartland Institute has also received funding over the years from companies that stand to benefit from delaying government regulation in the areas of tobacco and greenhouse gas emissions.

According to publicly available documents the Heartland Institute has received $676,000 from oil giant ExxonMobil. The oil money stopped flowing in 2006 from Exxon, but Dan Miller, executive vice president of the Heartland Institute, called its funding from ExxonMobil “pocket change.” “We can live without Exxon’s contribution just fine,” Miller said. Ya right.

Other reported funders over the years have been Philip Morris Management Corp., Chevron USA, the National Coal Association, the Brown & Williamson Tobacco corporation, Ford Motors, and General Motors.

In his self-published book on tobacco smoke oddly titled Please Don’t Poop in My Salad, Heartland’s President, Joseph Bast argues that a moderate amount of tobacco smoke is a mere annoyance:

“So this year, I will pledge to reduce, but not quit, smoking. If you are an anti-smoker, I ask you to consider making a New Year’s pledge too. Admit you may be over-estimating the health effects of smoking in moderation and underestimating the pleasure tobacco brings to the smoker’s life. Pledge to be more tolerant of the smokers in your midst. We, in turn, will do our best not to let our habit annoy you.”

On global warming, Bast argues on Heartland’s website that:

“Except for radical environmentalists–who always have been a small minority of the general public and even a minority within the environmental movement–most people don’t “ believe” in global warming. They believe–and rightly so–that the science is still undecided and government action is unnecessary.”

Downplay the effects, downplay the need to do anything – same strategy, different piles of money. I guess everyone has to make a buck somehow.


This month we’re giving away FREE copies Nobel Laureate Dr. Andrew Weaver’s new book Keeping Our Cool: Canada in a Warming World.

Go here to find out more details about DeSmogBlog’s monthly book give-away.

A Climate Deniers take on Tobacco Smoke

Kevin is a contributor and strategic adviser to DeSmogBlog.

He runs the digital marketing agency Spake Media House. Named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone Magazine and one of the “Top 50 Tweeters” on climate change and environment issues, Kevin has appeared in major news media outlets around the world for his work on digital campaigning.

Kevin has been involved in the public policy arena in both the United States and Canada for more than a decade. For five years he was the managing editor of DeSmogBlog.com. In this role, Kevin’s research into the “climate denial industry” and the right-wing think tank networks was featured in news media articles around the world. He is most well known for his ground-breaking research into David and Charles Koch’s massive financial investments in the Republican and tea party networks.

Kevin is the first person to be designated a “Certified Expert” on the political and community organizing platform NationBuilder.

Prior to DeSmogBlog, Kevin worked in various political and government roles. He was Senior Advisor to the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and a Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Asia Pacific, Foreign Affairs for the Government of Canada. Kevin also worked in various roles in the British Columbia provincial government in the Office of the Premier and the Ministry of Health.

In 2008 Kevin co-founded a groundbreaking new online election tool called Vote for Environment which was later nominated for a World Summit Award in recognition of the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications.

Kevin moved to Washington, DC in 2010 where he worked for two years as the Director of Online Strategy for Greenpeace USA and has since returned to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.

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