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…