Proposition 23 Battle Gets Smokin’ Hot as Tobacco Lobbyist Jumps Into the Fray

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heartland institute supports proposition 23The Heartland Institute, which has made its name by fighting anti-smoking laws, has just rolled out a campaign in support of California’s Proposition 23.  Prop 23 is a ballot measure designed to nullify AB 32, California’s new law regulating greenhouse gas emissions, so it’s no surprise that out-of-state oil companies are investing heavily to campaign for it. So, why is a tobacco industry lobbying organization putting its muscle behind Prop 23?

Heartland and The Oil Industry

For those of you familiar with Heartland, there is a pretty strong logic to its affinity for Proposition 23: the organization has a solid history of promoting the denial of climate change science. In past years it received a good deal of funding from Exxon, but recently Exxon has tried to put some distance between them, by ceasing to fund the organization. However, it’s not clear that all the ties have been severed. According to, in 2007 Heartland launched a website with the aim of shooting down the scientific consensus on global warming, which includes links to other think tanks that have received funding from Exxon (in a related note, last February the New York Times reported that Exxon is still funding similar climate-denying efforts in the U.K.)

Heartland and Proposition 23

I’m not interested in promoting Heartland’s websites so feel free to look them up for yourself. The new campaign features a press release that positions Prop 23 as a ballot measure that will protect jobs and “quality of life.”  In contrast, a long (very long) list of California companies, community groups and trade organizations are opposing Prop 23, along with the green jobs coalition Appollo Alliance.

Image: Cigarette by SuperFantastic on

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Tina Casey

Tina specializes in advanced energy technology, military sustainability, emerging materials, biofuels, ESG and related policy and political matters. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on LinkedIn, Threads, or Bluesky.

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