This is a guest post by Lee Fang and Nick Surgey, originally published on Republic Report.
Before the Heartland Institute became famous for its leading role in climate change denial, the group spent many years working to defend the tobacco industry. Just as the group is now known for its over the top attacks on climate scientists, Heartland once played a large role in criticizing public health experts and others calling attention to the dangers of cigarette smoking.
At a mining conference in Denver earlier this month, Republic Report spoke to the Heartland president Joe Bast about his past support for the tobacco industry. In an opinion column titled “Five Lies About Tobacco,” Bast once repeatedly claimed that health concerns regarding cigarette smoking were overblown and worth ignoring. At first, Bast denied that he had ever dismissed concerns about smoking and disputed the quote we read to him.
“In 1998, you wrote in a Heartland op-ed that smoking cigarettes has little to no adverse health effects,” we noted. “Do you stand by that?”
“No, I never wrote that,” replied Bast. “Why would I have written something like that?” Bast asked to see the op-ed, and promised to “contest” it.
Later, Republic Report returned and read Bast's op-ed to him.
Watch the video below: