Lawsuits Against Big Tobacco… Justified or Not?

Topics: Tobacco, Nicotine, Cigarette Pages: 6 (1978 words) Published: April 16, 2006
Since the first major lawsuit settled against tobacco companies in 1998, there has been much controversy over whether or not these lawsuits are justified. On the pro side of the argument there is much evidence to support that the tobacco industries have long known about the dangers of cigarette smoking. Furthermore that this knowledge warrants the need for compensation. In addition the industry has concealed this knowledge from the public. On the con side of the argument evidence shows that these lawsuits have been based on false claims primarily in regard to health care costs for smokers. Furthermore, the regulations set by the settlement of the 1998 multistate lawsuit have established a legal president which allows individuals to avoid their personal responsibilities.

Lawsuits Against Big Tobacco… Justified or Not?
On the pro side, "Lawsuits Against Tobacco Companies Are Justified" by Greenhaven Press is a paper arguing that lawsuits against the tobacco industry are justified due to the fact that tobacco companies have knowingly damaged public health. On the con side, "Lawsuits Against Tobacco Companies Are Not Justified" also by Greenhaven Press is a paper arguing that lawsuits against cigarette manufacturers for the monetary recovery of health damages are not justified due to the fact that these lawsuits are setting a legal precedent with the effect of legislation. Although both papers were edited by the same individual and published by the same company, they are completely opposite in their point of view.

On the pro side, the paper makes multiple assumptions in regard to the tobacco companies being, for lack of a better word, evil. Consequently, the lawsuits are righteous. The paper addresses the issue of how Big Tobacco knowingly withheld facts regarding the health issues related to smoking. The paper states, "Industry documents show that the companies were aware of the link between smoking and lung cancer prior to the first surgeon-general report on the subject in 1964, even though they denied such a link for years." The paper goes on to refer to nicotine in cigarettes, and how Big Tobacco knew nicotine was addictive. The paper shows how Big Tobacco increased nicotine levels to ensure smokers would continue smoking. The paper states, "Industry documents…show, beyond a doubt, that as early as the 1960s tobacco companies knew that the nicotine in tobacco was an addictive drug, even though they denied this fact until well into the 1990s" The paper goes on to state, "evidence [shows] that the tobacco companies artificially raised nicotine concentrations in cigarettes." This paper has shown these statements to be fact by directly quoting material found in documents produced by five major tobacco companies. In light of these facts, my opinion is that there should be some sort of compensation to those smokers who began smoking before the surgeon-general's warning was labeled on cigarettes.

On the other hand, the con side makes multiple assumptions in regard to the lawsuits becoming the legal precedent and that these lawsuits are set on false arguments. Consequently, the results of these lawsuits are corrupt. This paper addresses the issue of health care costs in reality being higher for nonsmokers when taking into account the costs over an entire lifetime. The paper states, "Smokers' premature deaths mean that the government spends less money on smokers' retirement payments and nursing home care." While this may be a callous statement, the truth is hardly disputable and is supported by a 1997 study in the New England Journal of Medicine. In addition, the paper addresses how the government, both state and federal, has already made billions of dollars from taxes on cigarettes. This money more than makes up for the costs that the states sued for which makes the lawsuits unwarrantable. This paper states, "The federal excise tax on cigarettes was 34 cents per pack, and that is scheduled to increase to 39...
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