TOBACCO AND OIL ANTI-REGULATORY AGITPROP LINKED BY SAME LOBBYISTS

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20 july 2016

BUSINESS:
Document trove details links between tobacco, oil industries

Benjamin Hulac, E&E reporter, ClimateWire: Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Organizations worried about climate change have long drawn comparisons between the petroleum and tobacco industries, arguing that each has minimized public health damages of its products to operate unchecked.

Some have urged federal regulators to prosecute oil companies under racketeering charges, as the Department of Justice did in 1999 in a case against Philip Morris and other major tobacco brands.

Oil companies bristle at the comparison. But overlap between both industries existed as early as the 1950s, new research details.

Documents housed at the University of California, San Francisco, and analyzed in recent months by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, show that the oil and tobacco industries have been linked for decades. The files CIEL drew its research from have been public for years.
John Hill

John Hill, founder of what is now Hill+Knowlton Strategies. Photo by Hill+Knowlton, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The unknown author of one memo, who once worked for Standard Oil Co. Inc. of New Jersey, suggested scientists for an advisory committee study the health effects of smoking.

"I am giving below the names of individuals who you might consider as potential members of the Medical Advisory Committee for the tobacco industry, as related to its current medical problem," the person wrote to a tobacco research board, alluding to building evidence that smoking caused health problems.

Both industries hired public relations company Hill & Knowlton Inc., an influential New York firm, for outreach as early as 1956.

And Theodor Sterling, a mathematics professor known for research on smoking that was favorable to the tobacco industry -- Philip Morris paid more than $200,000 in the 1990s for his work -- also studied lead in gasoline for Ethyl Corp. in 1962. Ethyl was a joint venture between General Motors Corp. and Standard Oil.

"From the 1950s onward, the oil and tobacco firms were using not only the same PR firms and same research institutes, but many of the same researchers," CIEL President Carroll Muffett said in a statement.

"Again and again we found both the PR firms and the researchers worked first for oil, then for tobacco," he said. "It was a pedigree the tobacco companies recognized and sought out."

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