Oil and tobacco are often linked by activists as embodying the same obfuscating strategies to market and develop products that are harmful to public health. While the oil industry denies the comparison, a new examination of old documents reveals links that go back decades.
As reported in Scientific American, the link between Big Oil and Big Tobacco goes back more than six decades to the 1950s, when both industries began to use the same scientific experts and public relations firms to combat negative images of cigarette smoking and smog, including global warming caused by burning fossil fuels.
The links between the two industries come naturally. Gas stations were and still are among the largest sellers of cigarettes. Conversely, cigarette sales form the largest percentage of gas station retail figures. Historically, there were many joint advertising and marketing campaigns that targeted both customer bases. Tobacco companies turned to oil companies for their expertise in what is called mass spectrometry, a laboratory technique used to test for the chemical composition of smog and other substances.