Why Is Pfizer Still Aligning Itself With Heartland Institute On "Public Health" Record?

Fri, 2012-06-15 11:50Laurel Whitney
Laurel Whitney's picture

Why Is Pfizer Still Aligning Itself With Heartland Institute On "Public Health" Record?

The Heartland Institute has had a rough time the last couple of months. The climate denial shop has endured the release of embarrassing leaked documents. Then it launched a devastatingly ill-conceived billboard campaign associating climate science adherents with serial killers. That didn't work out so well. So Heartland's donors started pulling out. Its annual Denial-a-palooza festival was put out to pasture.

Despite the exodus of support for Heartland's extremist views, one major health care company remains a financial supporter of the Heartland Institute.

Pfizer, a major pharmaceutical company, continues to support Heartland, although its competitors, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Eli Lily, have already pulled out. Now Forecast the Facts is issuing a call to medical professionals to sign a letter urging Pfizer to dissolve its relationship with Heartland.

According to Pfizer, while the company has publicly stated it disagrees with Heartland on its stance on climate, it still supports Heartland's record on health care.

Here's why that's ironic.

It's quite clear that there's a link between the pollution that causes climate change and the pollution that causes health problems, specifically in the lungs. The emissions that come from sources like coal plants not only produce carbon pollution but also produce the particulates and toxics that infiltrate airways and cause respiratory problems and death.

Can you think of another pollution source that's bad for your health and damages your lungs? Cigarettes.

Some of the medications Pfizer produces include tiotropium and varenecline. You may better know those as Spiriva and Chantix, pills that treat COPD (a major respiratory disease) and help stop tobacco/nicotene addiction, respectively.

Heartland is a staunch defender of cigarette smokers' rights. Not only do they advocate against smoking bans and lower taxes for cigarettes (which, according to them, impinge on citizens' freedoms and private property rights), but also flat out deride the well-documented health risks associated with smoking and second-hand smoke.

Apparently they like pollution across the board- whether it's polluting the atmosphere or your lungs.

Here's an excerpt from their webpage entitled, “The Smoker's Lounge”, written by Heartland President, Joe Bast:

The public health community’s campaign to demonize smokers and all forms of tobacco is based on junk science.”

According to Heartland's leaked financial documents, these Heartland pages are supported by tobacco companies such as Philip Morris, Altria, and RJ Reynolds. Specifically, the last two contributed $90,000 and $110,000 respectively, in the last two years.

The page goes on to produce other gems of scientific clarity such as, “The threat of secondhand smoke has been greatly exaggerated,” and, “Smoking in moderation has few, if any, adverse health effects.”

To be fair, it does demonize smokers at one point, insinuating how they become dangerous criminals when ushered out to the sidewalks because of indoor smoking bans:

“Smoking bans can also move noisy and potentially dangerous crowds onto sidewalks, and divert police resources from battling more serious crime.”

Like the noisy and potentially dangerous crowds that are still inside the clubs?

Insane PR acrobatics aside, perhaps Pfizer is continuing its support of Heartland, which in recent years has summed up to as much as $130,000, because as a for-profit company, it knows that as long as there are people addicted to cigarettes, it can continue to peddle more medication to treat respiratory conditions.

Perhaps Pfizer should consider changing its mission statement from “Pfizer is committed to making the world a healthier place for future generations,” to “Pfizer is committed to supporting the organizations that use Big Tobacco money to promote habits and policies that harm public health so it can continue to sell the medication to remedy the ailments caused by said habits and policies it helped promote in the first place.”

I guess the second one isn't quite as catchy.

Check out Forecast the Facts petition to Pfizer here.

Previous Comments

Wow… They are quite into smoking cessation…

http://www.pfizer.com/products/rx/rx_product_nicotrol.jsp

But what would happen if everyone ceased?  How much money would Pfizer loose?

For what its worth, I’m pro-smoking.  I think people should have a choice.  After all, I like beer…  However, this is wrong.  Promoting smoking and selling drugs to help you stop is dirty pool.  Its just as bad as the Catholic church investing in condom manufacturing, or using gambling money to fund the school system.  (In both of those cases, the catholic church came to its senses and corrected the problem.)

Smoking is *not* an adult choice issue.  I don't care what adults do, but very few adult smokers started when they were adul.ts, but by the time they were 18, and tobacco companies have known that for decades.

Joe Camel  was the most successful campaign ever to get kids to smoke earlier, so good that within a few years, Joe Camel's recognition among 6-year-olds was as good as that of Mickey Mouse.  Tobacco marketeers are probably the best there are.

See pp.38-45 of PDF @ Fake science…

So, if people are *for* smoking, they are *for* tobacco compnaies purposefully addicting children to something that will eventually kill half of them.   They are *for* tobacco companies manipulating nicptine content and usign freebasing to make cigarettes more addictive.   They are *for* tobacco companes putting asbestos in cigarette filters.

Is that what people support?  (Well, probably not their kids, perhaps somebody else's.  Tobacco execs don't smoke, they reserver that right for “the poor, the young, the black and the stupid,” quoteth the Winston Man.

Lets be clear on that.

Did you see the movie “Thank You For Smoking”.  I quite liked it. I think they removed a fake TV ad that the Smoking lobbiests were required to produce in order to convince children not to smoke. It was a hilarious twist on what they were actually supposed to do.  “You’re not allowed to smoke until you’re 18 son, but its well worth the wait!“  For a pro smoking movie, its suprisingly wry.

Oh, and… I detest those companies.

[x]

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

The Amazon rainforest is magnificent. Watching programs about it, we’re amazed by brilliant parrots and toucans, tapirs, anacondas and jaguars. But if you ever go there expecting to be overwhelmed by a dazzling blur of activity, you’ll be disappointed. The jungle has plenty of vegetation — hanging vines, enormous trees, bromeliads and more — and a cacophony of insects and frogs. But much of the activity goes on at night or high up in the canopy.

Films of tropical forests don’t accurately reflect the reality of the ecosystems....

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