LATimes: Cigarettes’ lessons for climate change

Secondhand warming?

Alarmist Auden Schendmer writes in the Los Angeles Times:

…There are limits to the parallels between smoking and climate change, of course. People can live quite well without smoking, while society does need to consume energy — even if not in the amounts it now does or from such damaging sources. But there are nevertheless ways in which our experience with tobacco can help us grapple with the overwhelming problem of climate change.

First, let’s examine some of the ironies here. As Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway point out in their book “The Merchants of Doubt,” the fossil fuel industry and the hard right have used the same tactics as the tobacco industry to seed doubt about the danger of climate change. In fact, they’ve often used the same people and institutions to deliver that message. Although that’s depressing (fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me), it’s also hopeful, because we beat tobacco — or at least we’re winning, with smoking rates having dropped from 45% of the population in 1954 to less than 20% today.

First, we implemented policy solutions. The “sin taxes” levied on tobacco in most states made it increasingly difficult to afford the habit and created incentives to quit. Yes, those were regressive taxes, but some of the tax revenue has been used to support health and smoking-cessation programs.

Second, we used the courts to take on tobacco for willfully and knowingly hurting people. And we started to win those lawsuits.

Third, we changed cultural norms through advertising, in many cases funded through tobacco taxes.

And fourth, we embraced real, third-party, arbitrated science, blessed with the imprimatur

of the U.S. surgeon general, as a tool for moving public policy forward…

Read the commentary.

11 thoughts on “LATimes: Cigarettes’ lessons for climate change”

  1. So, while our governing philosophy was arrogant, heavy-handed, required a masssive distortion of science (in the case of second-hand smoke epidemiology), and hurts (continueing, not some by-gone past) the poor the most, isn’t it great that achieved our collective goals?

    Warm and fuzzy feelings all round!

    Excuse me while I go puke at the loss of our freedom and sanity . . .

  2. Other than involving the surgeon general, they’re doing all that and a huge amount more. Yet, they still seem to be smoking somethng that we won’t. Yeah, the strategies of coercion are plain to see.

    Big oil? Not really. Hard right? That,the hard middle and the soft left. Looking for some carbon abusers? Go after Gore. If he believes what he preaches, then he’s the one that’s willfully and knowingly hurting. And if he doesn’t, then his preaching is willfully and knowing hurting.

  3. I still remember while visiting my grandmother in the old age home noticing the large number of old people outside on the porch smoking. They weren’t allowed to smoke inside so at least 1/2 of the residents were taking their turns outside. It always bothered me that if smoking was so bad for you why were there so many old smokers. Just a thought.

  4. Matthew,

    Actually, a large number of those 100 years of age and older both smoke and drink hard liquor. That just came out in a US study of centenarians. Researchers are, predictably, puzzled.

  5. Puzzled: that when they jam data to fit an ideology, and then reality doesn’t fit the distorted data . . . hmmmm. It’s such a puzzle, isn’t it?

  6. Non smokers have a 1 in 10,000 chance of getting lung cancer. Heavy smoking increases that risk by a factor of 50 to 1 heavy smoker in 200 will get lung cancer. Ergo, 99.5% of cigarette smokers do not get lung cancer. The one who died is not on the porch.

  7. Because all the susceptable ones are dead.

    It’s a personal susceptability thing. Some folks can smoke six packs a day and maybe get emphacema or something but never cancer. Others can smoke for a year or two and thereby set off the triggers for cancer. It was ever thus. We do not yet have the diagnostics to point out definitively who is which ahead of time so caution is recommended.

    Having said that, second hand smoke is first hand BS. I can’t find one death certificate mentioning it even as a contributing factor.

  8. Matthew, I had two uncles who smoked (at least) a pack-a-day since they were teens, and died in their 80’s of something of something else. So I’m convinced there’s no generality in the “smoke, you’re going to die” mantra (I don’t by the way). More to the point of this post, it always amazes me how such idiots get a forum in a major newspaper. This guy goes from – there is evidence that smoking is harmful (to most?) with some evidence, to CO2 is going to kill all of us! What a moron.

  9. I took my 90 year old mother to her skin doctor last month. Although all of her medical records were on the computer screen, the assistant proceeded to ask questions. Mom is 90% deaf, couldn’t hear a thing. The first question was, “Do you Smoke?” I was mad at this point and answered, “Yes, she has smoked 3 packs a day since age 12.” (My mom has never smoked.)

    The next statement from the assistant was, “We need to get her to stop, she needs to take a smoking cesstation class.”

    Are you kidding me?

  10. There’s one major problem with this. The link between smoking and all of its nasty, life threatening aftereffects was and is well known, proven without a doubt despite the occasional anecdotal incidents of grizzled, old, 2 pack a day, cigar smoking individuals living, disease free, to a ripe old age. Anthropogenic Global Warming is anything but proven science. These so called scientists, those willing to commit themselves to predictions from computer algorithms that fail to prove what their faulty theory predicts, violate the most basic of the rules of science. Theory is not accepted science until there is solid evidence that its predictions comport with reality with 100% accuracy. Climate science is no where near this level of correlation. Fortunately, when the consensus of the so called “scientific community” was that the earth was flat and the center of the universe there were a few “deniers” that thought proving that theory fit with the results of experimental observation was more important than riding comfortably on the consensus bandwagon.

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