Oil and tobacco companies and other businesses hoping to press their agenda in the California legislature picked up most of the tab for a gathering of about 25 Republican state legislators and a dozen of their aides at a luxurious beach resort in Santa Barbara, California.
James Cameron's new blockbuster movie Avatar won a "black lung" rating for gratuitous smoking from the Web site Scenesmoking.org, which rates motion pictures according to the amount of smoking they show. Avatar is a futuristic fantasy that takes place sometime in the 22nd century. In it, Sigourney Weaver plays an environmental scientist who puffs on cigarettes as she tries to save the moon Pandora.
The approach the world has taken to tobacco control holds many lessons for the COP-15 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. A newly-published article in The Lancet (available with free registration) summarizes the many similarities between tobacco control and climate policy, and how the lessons learned from tobacco control can be applied to the way countries approach climate policy.
The University of Colorado at Boulder has accepted a $12.1 million grant from cigarette maker Philip Morris (PM) to put on "Life Skills Training" (LST) programs in middle schools, nominally aimed at reducing students' use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.
Notwithstanding that a federal court in 2006 found Philip Morris guilty of engaging in 50 years of public fraud and racketeering, a 2006 peer-reviewed study of tobacco industry documents conducted by the University of California San Francisco's Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education looked at why tobacco companies so robustly promote Life Skills Training. They found that since 1999, PM and Brown & Williamson have both worked to disseminate Life Skills Training programs into schools across the country. Why? As part of their effort, the two companies hired a public relations firm to evaluate the program. The evaluation showed that LST was not effective at reducing smoking, after either the first or second year of implementing the program. Despite this, the tobacco companies have continued to eagerly award grants to implement the program.
Last spring, President Obama signed a bill into law that raised the tax on roll-your-own cigarette tobacco from $1.10 per pound to a whopping $24.78 per pound. The revenue from the tax was to be put towards expanding children’s health insurance programs.
History is unkind to tobacco companies, and never more so than since a federal court in 2006 found the industry guilty of perpetrating 50 years of fraud and deceit upon the American people. It's a sordid history to live down, and maybe that's why R.J. Reynolds is harassing one of the few historians who has been willing to step up and testify in court about the real history of the tobacco industry's behavior: Professor Robert N. Proctor of Stanford University.
The current debate over health insurance reform has led to renewed calls by conservatives for tort reform, which they point to as the best way to decrease the cost of medical malpractice cases. "Tort reform" refers to any changes in liability laws that place higher burdens on people injured by products or services, erect barriers to keep their grievances out of the court system and generally tilt the legal playing field in favor of big businesses. Ample information, like that put out by Public Citizen, SourceWatch and investigative reports from other news sources have demonstrated that the so-called "tort reform movement" is actually a massive, corporate-funded, fake "grassroots" campaign perpetrated by American industry to try and restrict citizens' access to the legal system for redress against harms caused by defective products and negligent practices.