Climate change stops smoking – and vice versa?

The UN climate change talks in Cancun ended with little movement, and the prospects for future progress are dim. On the present course, preserving the planet as we know it for our children and grandchildren seems hopeless.

But the UN isn’t the only way to combat global warming. There’s a lot that campaigners against climate change can learn from the anti-tobacco movement. Over the past dozen years, attitudes toward smoking have changed dramatically across the world. I saw the most dramatic changes firsthand while working for Philip Morris in Asia, a region most believed would resist the anti-smoking trend that swept the US. However, Asia today has some of the world’s most stringent restrictions on tobacco sales and smoking.

To be more effective against global warming, environmentalists may need to spend less time hanging around UN bureaucrats and academics and more time with American lawyers. It’s a sacrifice, but Mother Earth is worth it.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.

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