Using the Tobacco Strategy Against Big Oil
Exxon Mobil has been in the news recently as it begins to defend itself against charges of covering up climate change research that proved risks to the environment of fossil fuel emissions. The United States has a long history of taking companies and entire industries to task over cover-ups of vital information about how products negatively affect the health of consumers.
For example, in the tobacco industry, there was the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement reached in 1988 against four manufacturers: Phillip Morris USA, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco, Brown & Williamson, and Lorillard that resulted in a $206 billion settlement over 25 years.
The Big Tobacco Playbook vs. The Tobacco Strategy
Some may be skeptical, but the “Big Tobacco Playbook” details how the tobacco industry fended off inquiries into the safety of its products through a sophisticated campaign of suppressing research, stonewalling, and deflection.The tactics and strategies in the playbook, perfected over decades, have subsequently been used by other industries including the pharmaceutical industry and some of its drugs. These strategies have their origin in the rise of the advertising industry and what has been called the “engineering of public opinion.”
One of the main strategies is to undermine the validity of scientific studies showing products to be hazardous. The most recent examples include pharmaceutical industry campaigns to sell drugs that have subsequently been shown to be ineffective or harmful to consumers. The current opioid epidemic may be traced to a similar cover up.
Today, environmental groups are waging a legal battle in an attempt to make progress in the fight against carbon emissions. In 2015, InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times reported that research showed that Exxon Mobil, in 1977, began concealing internal research showing that fossil fuels lead to climate change, global warming, and melting of Arctic ice.
The following video explains the alleged Exxon Mobil cover-up.