Should tobacco companies be held responsible and liable for costs associated with lung cancer and other smoking-related illnesses?

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What would a socially responsible tobacco company look like? It could certainly not be defined as such if it did not address the harm its products cause. It would be engaged in research and development seeking to develop less harmful versions of it product that would remain acceptable to its customers.

It would have a clear code of conduct about how it seeks to market it's products and to whom it would aim to tackle corruption and smuggling. It would ensure tobacco farmers worked in good conditions. (Baker, p1)

As recently as 1994, the companies' chief executive officers all swore before Congress that they did not know that smoking caused disease or believe it was addictive. Their scientists and lawyers knew and had been telling them so for decades.

The industry's campaign of coordinated subterfuge dates back nearly 50 years. In January 1954, after epidemiological research indicted smoking as a cause of lung cancer, a cabal of industry executives published the now infamous "Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers" in more than 400 US newspapers. The "frank statement" said, among other things, "We accept an interest in people's health as a basic responsibility, paramount to every other consideration in our business. ... We always have and always will cooperate closely with those whose task it is to safeguard the public health .... We are pledging aid and assistance to the research effort into all phases of tobacco use and health?. This solemn commitment was intended from day 1 to build a faccade behind which the industry could hide as it continued to challenge the scientific evidence, call for "more research," and characterize the relationship between smoking and disease as "controversial.? The profits from its death-dealing product were simply too great for the industry to honor its published commitment. (Warner, p897).

Arguments for holding tobacco companies responsible.

In 1965, the Surgeon General warned the public about the dangers of smoking and in 1969 health warning became mandatory on cigarette packets (Josefson, p1).

Any industry that produces a product needs a customer that is basic business 101. Most businesses use marketing to get people to try their product. The tobacco industry however, has added chemicals to their cigarettes that make the addiction more powerful and longer lasting. 3,000 chemicals can be found in tobacco smoke. Many of those chemicals found in cigarettes are known to be carcinogenic. Some of those known carcinogens are; benzene, cadium, chromium, nickel, radon, and vinyl chloride. (www.wordig.org) Nicotine the number one ingredient is now consider addictive by the FDA.

Smoking increases your chances of having a heart attack or stroke. Several ingredients in tobacco cause narrowing of your blood vessels which can lead to high blood pressure. In addition to upping your chances for having a heart attack or stroke, nicotine contained in cigarettes is considered highly addictive. (www.wordig.org) With this in mind how can cigarette companies deny their responsibility and negligence in selling these highly addictive substances to the general public?

Tobacco remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, with an annual death toll of more than 400 000--all, in theory, preventable. The poor, the less educated, and the disenfranchised smoke more than their better-off counterparts. Consequently, they suffer a disproportionate burden of tobacco -related illness and death. They are also the most exploited victims of predatory marketing practices that capitalize on their lack of education and other vulnerabilities.

States pay more than 17% of smoking-related health expenses through Medicaid programs. Investing in prevention, therefore, can result in long-term savings to states. Medicaid coverage to make smoking cessation affordable and accessible for the poor is crucial. Currently, 14 states offer no coverage at all. Comprehensive prevention and treatment plans...
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