Heartland Institute Reluctantly Stands by Denial of Cigarette Smoking Risks

Joe Bast, Heartland Institute

- by Nick Surgey and Lee Fang, Republic Report

Before the Heartland Institute became famous for its leading role in climate change denial, the group spent many years working to defend the tobacco industry. Just as the group is now known for its over the top attacks on climate scientists, Heartland once played a large role in criticizing public health experts and others calling attention to the dangers of cigarette smoking.

At a mining conference in Denver earlier this month, Republic Report spoke to the Heartland president Joe Bast about his past support for the tobacco industry. In an opinion column titled "Five Lies About Tobacco," Bast once repeatedly claimed that health concerns regarding cigarette smoking were overblown and worth ignoring. At first, Bast denied that he had ever dismissed concerns about smoking and disputed the quote we read to him.

"In 1998, you wrote in a Heartland op-ed that smoking cigarettes has little to no adverse health effects," we noted. "Do you stand by that?"

"No, I never wrote that," replied Bast. "Why would I have written something like that?" Bast asked to see the op-ed, and promised to "contest" it.

Later, Republic Report returned and read Bast's op-ed to him. Watch the video below:



After reading his op-ed to him — which claimed moderate smoking is not deadly and has "few, if any adverse health effects" — Bast then reaffirmed his comments, but hedged, arguing that he meant "one or two cigarettes a day or week." We read another line from his piece, which at the time claimed up to seven cigarettes a day does not raise the risk of lung cancer. Bast again confirmed his sentiment.

Heartland has gone to great lengths to argue that its attacks on public health or climate science are not motivated by the vast amounts of funding it receives from industry groups. But again, the tobacco wars are an instructive reminder of Heartland's agenda.

After litigation forced the disclosure of thousands of tobacco company documents, many Heartland letters to companies such as Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds were exposed to the public.

"Heartland does many things that benefit Philip Morris' bottom line," Bast once wrote to Roy Marden, the Manager of Industry Affairs for Philip Morris Management in a letter seeking $35,000 in contributions for Heartland from the tobacco company.

His evidence? A litany of reports, opinion pieces, and new articles placed by Heartland in defense of the tobacco industry and in opposition to those seeking to highlight the health risks associated with smoking.

"Heartland has devoted considerable attention to defending tobacco," wrote Bast in the letter. He pointed to several examples, including "two of my essays, titled 'Five Lies About Tobacco' and 'Joe Camel is Innocent.'"


Judge doesnt accept statistical studies as proof of LC causation! It was McTear V Imperial Tobacco. Here is the URL for both my summary and the Judge’s ‘opinion’ (aka ‘decision’): http://boltonsmokersclub.wordpress.com/the-mctear-case-the-analysis/ (2.14) Prof Sir Richard Doll, Mr Gareth Davies (CEO of ITL). Prof James Friend and Prof Gerad Hastings gave oral evidence at a meeting of the Health Committee in 2000. This event was brought up during the present action as putative evidence that ITL had admitted that smoking caused various diseases. Although this section is quite long and detailed, I think that we can miss it out. Essentially, for various reasons, Doll said that ITL admitted it, but Davies said that ITL had only agreed that smoking might cause diseases, but ITL did not know. ITL did not contest the public health messages. (2.62) ITL then had the chance to tell the Judge about what it did when the suspicion arose of a connection between lung cancer and smoking. Researchers had attempted to cause lung cancer in animals from tobacco smoke, without success. It was right, therefore, for ITL to ‘withhold judgement’ as to whether or not tobacco smoke caused lung cancer. [9.10] In any event, the pursuer has failed to prove individual causation. Epidemiology cannot be used to establish causation in any individual case, and the use of statistics applicable to the general population to determine the likelihood of causation in an individual is fallacious. Given that there are possible causes of lung cancer other than cigarette smoking, and given that lung cancer can occur in a nonsmoker, it is not possible to determine in any individual case whether but for an individual’s cigarette smoking he probably would not have contracted lung cancer (paras.[6.172] to [6.185]). [9.11] In any event there was no lack of reasonable care on the part of ITL at any point at which Mr McTear consumed their products, and the pursuer’s negligence case fails. There is no breach of a duty of care on the part of a manufacturer, if a consumer of the manufacturer’s product is harmed by the product, but the consumer knew of the product’s potential for causing harm prior to consumption of it. The individual is well enough served if he is given such information as a normally intelligent person would include in his assessment of how he wishes to conduct his life, thus putting him in the position of making an informed choice (paras.[7.167] to [7.181]).

This pretty well destroys the Myth of second hand smoke: Lungs from pack-a-day smokers safe for transplant, study finds. By JoNel Aleccia, Staff Writer, NBC News. Using lung transplants from heavy smokers may sound like a cruel joke, but a new study finds that organs taken from people who puffed a pack a day for more than 20 years are likely safe. What’s more, the analysis of lung transplant data from the U.S. between 2005 and 2011 confirms what transplant experts say they already know: For some patients on a crowded organ waiting list, lungs from smokers are better than none. “I think people are grateful just to have a shot at getting lungs,” said Dr. Sharven Taghavi, a cardiovascular surgical resident at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, who led the new study........................... Ive done the math here and this is how it works out with second ahnd smoke and people inhaling it! The 16 cities study conducted by the U.S. DEPT OF ENERGY and later by Oakridge National laboratories discovered: Cigarette smoke, bartenders annual exposure to smoke rises, at most, to the equivalent of 6 cigarettes/year. 146,000 CIGARETTES SMOKED IN 20 YEARS AT 1 PACK A DAY. A bartender would have to work in second hand smoke for 2433 years to get an equivalent dose. Then the average non-smoker in a ventilated restaurant for an hour would have to go back and forth each day for 119,000 years to get an equivalent 20 years of smoking a pack a day! Pretty well impossible ehh!

JOINT STATEMENT ON THE RE-ASSESSMENT OF THE TOXICOLOGICAL TESTING OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS" 7 October, the COT meeting on 26 October and the COC meeting on 18 November 2004. http://cot.food.gov.uk/pdfs/cotstatementtobacco0409 "5. The Committees commented that tobacco smoke was a highly complex chemical mixture and that the causative agents for smoke induced diseases (such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, effects on reproduction and on offspring) was unknown. The mechanisms by which tobacco induced adverse effects were not established. The best information related to tobacco smoke - induced lung cancer, but even in this instance a detailed mechanism was not available. The Committees therefore agreed that on the basis of current knowledge it would be very difficult to identify a toxicological testing strategy or a biomonitoring approach for use in volunteer studies with smokers where the end-points determined or biomarkers measured were predictive of the overall burden of tobacco-induced adverse disease." In other words ... our first hand smoke theory is so lame we can't even design a bogus lab experiment to prove it. In fact ... we don't even know how tobacco does all of the magical things we claim it does. The greatest threat to the second hand theory is the weakness of the first hand theory.

So Heartland goes to the tobacco industry for funds, not the other way around? How is that doing the bidding for the industry? It's clear as day from the letter that Heartland had its own views and were then looking for funding from the industry that merely shares the same view.

Weird that, based on the comments so far, no liberals appear to visit this site...

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You used to have a video posted of Joe Bast's denial that he had ever denied smoking causes cancer. What happened to it? Why was it taken down? Can you put it back up on that page, or send it to me privately? It used to be available at https://www.prwatch.org/news/2014/05/12464/heartland-institute-reluctantly-stands-denial-cigarette-smoking-risks

Why is the video inactive at http://www.prwatch.org/news/2014/05/12464/heartland-institute-reluctantly-stands-denial-cigarette-smoking-risks ? Can you provide the video somehow?