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Should tobacco companies be held responsible and liable for costs...

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

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  • September 5, 2005
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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...