Our very own Marvin Bloom has the scoop on the Exxon-Mobil scandal that recently broke. He also shed light on where the petroleum giant got all its sneaky methods to trick the public and hide what they knew about the dangers of fossil fuels. But Marvin digs deeper to highlight successful tactics in addressing smoking rates in America that can be applied to breaking our petroleum addiction. With his signature weirdness and humor, Marvin breaks it all down for us.
Have a listen (5 min)
Oooooh Exxon-Mobil is in trouble. Did you hear the NY States Attorney is investigating the petroleum giant? The investigators insist that Exxon-Mobile knew fossil fuel pollution caused global warming but they intentionally hid that information from stock holders. Now in America you can lie about a lot of things—the health benefits of a granola bar, the birth certificate of our president, or why you can’t come home for the holidays, but about stocks? Oh, no. People go to jail for that stuff here. Even Martha Stewart.
Seems some years ago companies like Exxon-Mobil took a page from the tobacco industry’s book, you know the one that for decades suppressed and massaged the known risks of cigarette smoking. Since the 50s big tobacco inserted doubt into the discussion. By doing so they created the appearance that there was some sort of serious scientific debate about the harms of cigarette smoking. Petroleum giants have been successfully using the same tactics to keep us hooked on the hose—the gas hose that is. But there is a way to break these nasty dangerous habits.
Back in the 1950s and 60s we have Don Draper like ad men creating slick campaigns for Lucky Strikes and other cigarette ads. A lot of Americans smoked. Eve Flintstones cartoon smoking spokesmen, spokescartoons? for Winston Cigarettes.. In 1955 56.9% of adult males in the USA smoked. Nearly 30% of women smoked. So much more than today. As of 2013 in the US 18 out of 100 Americans aged 18 or older smoke. 18% And that is a national average. In New York for instance only 14% of adults smoke and in California it gets as low as 12%.
Why are Americans smoking less? Well, it has had little to do with the disgusting pictures of diseased lungs they hurl at kids in school. Anti-tobacco people have learned that there is a better way. Instead of the health risks, talk to young people about the sneaky marketing efforts and unethical practices of the tobacco industry. That has been proven to actually curb smoking. Dr. Stanton A Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California in San Francisco heads their tobacco Control Research Education. He said, “We now have empirical evidence that people who don’t like the tobacco industry are about five times as likely to quit, and a third to a fifth as likely to start.”
Highlighting the creepy and unethical ways the tobacco industry does business does help, but that is not why our smoking rates dropped and continue to drop.Dr. Richard Hurt, who directs the Nicotine Dependence Center at the Mayo clinic,points to two public policies most responsible for the decline in smoking among Americans— 1. The price of cigarettes. States place fees and taxes on the stuff. The price goes up. People buy less, particularly younger people, then they don’t get hooked. Then we see New markets, like those weird vape things I see people use, emerge. So raise the price, and lots of people move one. And the number two reason for the decrease in smoking? : We have created smoke-free spaces, particularly on the job. When it is harder to find places to smoke, well, you smoke less.
So, if we are going to address the dishonesty and trickery of those petroleum companies, whose products we love so much and can’t seem to live without, we need to of course expose their practices. Bring it to the light. Then we need to change policy. We need help to break our fossil fuel habits. Talk to your congress person to put a fee on petroleum and other fossil fuels. That will give businesses, yes, even big bad petroleum giants like Exxon-Mobile, incentive to invest in clean energy. Good bye bad oil, hello Big Renewables.
I am Marvin Bloom, and this has been your moment with Marvin.