By Glenn Albin
Cigarettes kill? A Florida jury thought so and has just awarded a widow of a lung cancer victim $24 billion in damages. Lawyers argued that R.J. Reynolds was negligent in informing consumers of the addictive dangers of tobacco.
DYR looks back, not too many years ago, when dentists recommended Viceroys and 20,679 physicians agreed that Luckies protected your throat against cough. And one teary-eyed baby cried: "Before you scold me, Mom, maybe you'd better light up a Marlboro." Let's face it, American tobacco brands have always had it pretty easy with lax standards for truth in ads. By world comparisons, we still sell the stuff like candy, while other countries with enforced graphic photos and grave warnings have actually reduced smokers.
But Hollywood has played its part in glamorizing the cigarette in countless classic films, likeCasablanca, Now, Voyager, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Graduate and Basic Instinct. Then there were the lifelong smokers like John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Robert Taylor, Jack Webb and Betty Grable, all of whom actively endorsed brands and later died of lung cancer or heart attacks. Today, Big Tobacco is chasing a new revenue stream: e-cigarettes. They appeal to 20-somethings-and the lack of health studies about the side effects give the old merchants of death an unhealthy horizon for false advertising and profits that come at a cost of misery. And lawsuits...but not for a few years.
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