That is a totally ignorant statement about science, on two counts which I’ll let you figure out yourself. It is a pity that you choose to include that statement, guaranteed to raise eyebrows if not hackles of most scientists, at the very beginning of a generally very well thought, well worked and well written article, in order to make your points about the analogies, lack thereof and the lessons to be learned from comparing “smoking-cancer” to “oil consumption-climate change”.
Couple of other notable differences between the two issues and why one has been successful. Science was not politicised then as it has been now, thank the Republicans for that. General scientific literacy in the US had gone down since then and the religious right has gained more political power. The government conducted a massive anti-smoking education campaign.
Most importantly, Americans have become incapable of significant personal behavioural change. Instead of giving up smoking, imagine if the societal response had been to 1. Mandate slowly increasing “tobacco efficiency” and emissions standards.
2. Keep encouraging the use of cigarettes by building more public infrastructure for their consumption.
3. Think that “filter reuse and recycling” would have some effect on lung cancer.
4. Give smokers privileged seats at restaurants for sharing “high occupancy cigarettes”.