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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.

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