A new academic study confirms that front groups with longstanding ties to the tobacco industry and the billionaire Koch brothers planned the formation of the Tea Party movement more than a decade before it exploded onto the U.S. political scene.
Far from a genuine grassroots uprising, this astroturf effort was curated by wealthy industrialists years in advance. Many of the anti-science operatives who defended cigarettes are currently deploying their tobacco-inspired playbook internationally to evade accountability for the fossil fuel industry’s role in driving climate disruption.
The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health, traces the roots of the Tea Party’s anti-tax movement back to the early 1980s when tobacco companies began to invest in third party groups to fight excise taxes on cigarettes, as well as health studies finding a link between cancer and secondhand cigarette smoke.
Published in the peer-reviewed academic journal, Tobacco Control, the study titled, ‘To quarterback behind the scenes, third party efforts’: the tobacco industry and the Tea Party, is not just an historical account of activities in a bygone era. As senior author, Stanton Glantz, a University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) professor of medicine, writes:
“Nonprofit organizations associated with the Tea Party have longstanding ties to tobacco companies, and continue to advocate on behalf of the tobacco industry’s anti-tax, anti-regulation agenda.”
The two main organizations identified in the UCSF Quarterback study are Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks. Both groups are now “supporting the tobacco companies’ political agenda by mobilizing local Tea Party opposition to tobacco taxes and smoke-free laws.” Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity were once a single organization called Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE). CSE was founded in 1984 by the infamous Koch Brothers, David and Charles Koch, and received over $5.3 million from tobacco companies, mainly Philip Morris, between 1991 and 2004.
Like many people, my first reaction on seeing Herman Cain’s bizarre campaign video was that it had to be a hoax.
I mean, come on. Who could ever consider Mark Block — twitching and shaking his head spasmodically, speaking with a weird flat affect and nicotine-stained teeth, then taking a drag off a cigarette — to be a good spokesman for a presidential campaign?
Answer: Herman Cain, that’s who.
For those who doubted its authenticity, Mr. Block has weighed in with an e-mail to the CBS News senior political writer Caroline Horn: “Only comment is – I smoke. Its a choice. It’s Block being Block.”
Could this mean that the right wing will now revive their pro-tobacco “smoking is good for you!” campaigns? It wouldn’t be difficult; the propaganda machines are still in place. They simply shifted focus to denying global warming.
And it’s definitely in the running for worst political ad of the season so far. Don’t miss the surprising conclusion, a freaky shout-out to Cain’s past as a tobacco industry lobbyist followed by Cain’s mind-bendingly creepy slow motion smile.
It’s 1994, and who do we find shilling for the tobacco industry’s last ditch efforts to cast doubt on the scientific evidence that tobacco smoke is killing people?
On Friday the American tobacco industry suffered a huge blow, as the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld earlier rulings that the industry violated federal racketeering laws in a decades-long scheme to deceive the public about the dangers of smoking.
The court affirmed most remedies that a trial judge imposed against tobacco companies in 2006, which included restrictions on tobacco marketing and a requirement that the industry make corrective public statements about the health effects and addictiveness of smoking.
The appeals court, however, rejected the government’s request for additional penalties against cigarette makers. Among other things, the government and anti-smoking groups wanted to force the tobacco industry to fund a $10 billion national smoking-cessation campaign.
The appeals court also affirmed an earlier ruling that the government couldn’t force the tobacco companies to forfeit up to $280 billion in profits.
In a unanimous 92-page ruling, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said there was ample evidence to conclude that the tobacco industry intended to deceive the public about the dangers of smoking.
The court said the tobacco companies “knew about the negative health consequences of smoking, the addictiveness and manipulation of nicotine, the harmfulness of secondhand smoke, and the concept of smoker compensation, which makes light cigarettes no less harmful than regular cigarettes and possibly more.”
The court also said the government had adequately proven that the tobacco industry was likely to commit future racketeering violations unless restrictions were imposed.