Objectives: We studied tobacco industry efforts during the 1980s and 1990s to promote the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI), a nonprofit organization, as an authority on indoor air quality as part of the industry's strategy to oppose smoke-free worksite policies.
Methods: We analyzed tobacco industry documents, conducted literature searches in Lexis-Nexis for background and historical literature, and reviewed relevant public health and policy literature.
Results: The tobacco industry provided more than US $6 million to NEMI to establish it as an authority on indoor air quality and to work with it to undermine support for smoke-free air policies by promoting ventilation as a solution to indoor air quality problems. Tobacco industry support for NEMI was not publicly disclosed.
Conclusions: NEMI was a valuable ally for the tobacco industry through NEMI's ties to organized labor, its technical background, and its status as a third-party actor. NEMI also helped the industry to portray ventilation to improve overall indoor air quality and smoke-free worksites as an either-or choice; in fact, both can improve worker health.