Smokers Who Sue

Judge Awards $15M in Tobacco Case
(AP) - Accusing tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds of failing to "repent of its ways," a federal judge awarded $15 million in punitive damages Friday to a former smoker who lost his legs to a circulatory disease he blamed on cigarettes. The order against RJR follows a jury verdict in February in which David Burton was awarded compensatory damages of $196,416. Burton, 67, smoked for 43 years, beginning as a teenager, until 1993, when a circulatory disease forced doctors to amputate his legs... (see more)

What is wrong with the world today? If RJR had taken the cigarettes and put them in this man's mouth and forced him at gunpoint to smoke for 43 years, this might be a viable case. In actuality, a company being sued because someone used their product - even while aware of the possible damages - is flat out wrong.

If the studies in Finland prove to be true - and cell phone usage is causing major changes to users' cells - are we going to see a surge of people suing Sprint and Suncom? (see Cell Phones May Cause...) Guess that'll put new meaning into the term "cell" phone, ay?

But, back to the point - what is it with smokers being so sue-crazy with their former loves - the tobacco companies? You don't see alcoholics or families of alcoholics suing the beer companies? You don't see MADD moms doing so either? And why not?

"Alcohol use is involved in:

  • One-half of all murders, accidental deaths, and suicides
  • One-third of all drownings and boating and aviation deaths
  • One-half of all crimes
  • Almost half of all fatal automobile accidents

The health problems associated with alcohol include brain damage, cancer, heart disease, and cirrhosis of the liver."
(see Overview of Alcohol Related Problems)

An individual, in one hard night of drinking, can die from alcohol poisoning - and it happens more than it should. A cigarette smoker isn't going to drop dead that day whether he smokes 3 packs or 10. Cigarette smoking might cause cancer, but there are people in their 80s who have been smoking all of their lives and have never suffered illness because of it. The fact is, if you are an alcoholic, you are going to get cirrhosis of the liver and you are going to suffer brain damage. It is a definite.

People driving and smoking are not as apt to wreck and kill someone else or themselves as someone drinking and driving. Smoking cigarettes is not going to impair your mind so that you involve yourself in crime.

If we look at these facts, we see that heavy drinkers have much more of a case against the alcohol companies than smokers do against the tobacco companies. Another important fact - have you seen a beer commercial lately? Do you see cigarette commercials at all? Alcohol companies lure you in with flashy advertising - but cigarettes are so "deadly" they aren't even allowed to do so. How are cigarettes more deadly than alcohol? If anyone could be suing a company for falsely leading them to believe their product would make them cooler - it's the alcohol guys.

So why don't we see an influx of drinkers suing the companies that make their favorite swill? For the reason that people drink because they want to. Although both alcohol and cigarettes are equally addictive - people who drink know the chances they are taking - and take them anyway. When their liver starts failing, they aren't going to turn around and say "It was the beer companies' fault!" Doesn't that sound asinine? It's just as ridiculous sounding when a former smoker does the same.

And what about Coca-Cola? For anyone who's drank it, or knows people who do - it is blatantly obvious that it is addictive. Have you seen somenoe who can't help but drink 6 cans a day? Have you ever seen these same people try to quit? They go through the standard withdrawls - the shakes, headaches, irritability, inability to sleep. Let's look at some interesting facts about Coke:

  • You can clean a toilet with Coke.
  • It can remove stains from vitreous china.
  • Use Coke and a ball of aluminum foil for rust on chrome.
  • It cleans corrosion from car battery terminals.
  • Use a Coke-soaked cloth to loosen a rusted bolt.
  • Use a can of Coke in a load of greasy laundry.

I'm sure you've seen these emails yourself. The above are the ones proven to be truth. The ones not yet proven are that Coke can eat through a nail in four days and T-bone steak in two. Whether or not that is truth, the listed above are enough to make me not want to ingest this beverage.

So, if Coca-Cola is addictive - and obviously it must do horrible things to your insides - why aren't we suing the Coca-Cola companies? Why? Because it's silly - just as silly as even bringing up Coke in this article. That's the point. I might as well sue Lays - those greasy potato chips made me fat. Or some of those over-the-counter energy pills - I couldn't sleep for a week. Perhaps I'll slap a lawsuit on fingernail polish companies - every time I open the bottle the smell makes me sick.

The point here is - if you know the risks and choose to do it anyway, you should NOT be allowed to sue the company that made the product. Unless you don't mind admitting that you're a mindless boob who would jump off a bridge if someone told you it'd be fun and then got angry at the person because you were stupid enough to listen to them. End of story.

One more thought...
I think the judge was biased in this case. It's the same as in that case with the judge who ordered a mother to stop smoking around her teenage son or she would lose custody rights to him. The judge in that case was a fervent anti-smoker. When it comes to an issue that has such extreme sides - as is the case with the pro- and anti- smokers - you're going to have a problem with biased decisions being made. Had the man been a raging alcoholic trying to sue an alcohol company would the judge have made the same ruling?