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Susan Cody: Suing Big Tobacco -- Right Or Wrong?

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Tobacco companies are still being sued. Tobacco companies have hidden the addictive properties of their products for years. They continue to market to teenagers, and specifically target women by calling their cigarettes 'slims' and using slogans like 'it's a woman thing' while showing a gorgeous, slim, successful woman smiling at the camera and puffing away on her cigarette.

“The first warning label appeared in January of 1966, about two years after the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health. The original warning label said "CAUTION: Cigarette Smoking May Be Hazardous to Your Health" and was replaced in 1970 by one saying "WARNING: The Surgeon General Has Determined That Cigarette Smoking Is Dangerous to Your Health."”

Source - http://thescooponsmoking.org/xhtml/quizzes/quittingQuestions.php

But the people who started smoking before the mid 1960s are mostly dead by now, or very elderly. Many of these lawsuits are being filed by people who knew of the dangers yet smoked anyway. For the record, I am one of those people. Not one who sued, but one who began smoking, knowing the dangers.

I am left wondering if I actually believe that these smokers did not know how damaging cigarettes were. While these addictive properties were indeed hidden by many tobacco companies, every smoker knows that cigarettes are extremely addictive. They don't need someone else to tell them that.
By the 1970s, we all knew about the lung cancers, emphysema and heart disease caused by cigarettes. I am surprised to see people in their 50s and 60s still blaming the tobacco companies.

Don't misunderstand - I am no fan of Big Tobacco. As a smoker of about 16 years, I went through enormous struggles to quit. But I felt like suing myself, not the tobacco companies for being so dumb to start smoking! And I believe the underhanded actions of tobacco companies, like targeting children and poor people are morally reprehensible.

But I am no big fan of personal irresponsibility either. We cannot look at a tobacco company and blame them for our own disease, when it was our choice to smoke a product we knew was dangerous.

No-one is addicted to cigarettes the first time they smoke. It actually takes a while. Some people like me loved it from the get go. But many people don't. So if we knowingly and continuously take part in an activity that we know is dangerous and if we are not addicts yet - do we lose our right to sue?

Did we give ourselves the disease or was it the tobacco company? Are we both to blame?
We now see fast food companies being sued by obese people claiming it's not their fault that they ate so much. It's the fault of Burger King or McDonalds.
Nowadays I have to say I feel the same way about continued lawsuits against tobacco companies. We all know smoking will pretty much kill us. If it doesn't kill us, it won't make us stronger; it'll make us sick, immobile and angry.

I understand people suing Big Tobacco who began smoking pre 1965. The tobacco companies even make smoking seem like a relaxing alternative to over-eating. A cigarette was practically good for you.

But as the saying goes, when you know better, you do better. And we know better. If we all just quit smoking, these companies would be out of business in months. But yet we chose the dangerous behavior. And in this day and age maybe it's ourselves we need to hold accountable.

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