I think I have been aware for a while that Big Tobacco has some sneaky ways of influencing public opinion and injecting questionable evidence about cigarettes and smoking into the marketplace. One of the ways they do this is by using "front groups" that appear to represent restaurateurs and bar owners to oppose smoking bylaws, for example.
But who knew that Philip Morris would end up financing communication of biased climate change skepticism? An recently published excerpt from a new book explains how this ended up happening: back in the day (OK, about 15 years ago) a public relations company told PM that they needed to create the impression that a grassroots movement had formed out of the blue to fight "overregulation", and that it should protray the dangers of tobacco smoke as just one "unfounded fear" among many. The others could be things like concerns about pesticides and cellphones - and climate change.
The public relations company founded a coalition - and got paid lost of cashola by PM - to do this. So basically, Big Tobacco got involved in providing biased information about all sorts of issues to the public. The whole point was to select out the research (however minimal it might be compared to the entire body of scientific literature) that could create doubt in the public mind about all of these issues, and undermine the credibility of government research in general.
That's just lovely.
Thanks Caroline, for the link!