A San Francisco jury awarded an ex-chain smoker $51 million recently because cigarette makers failed to adequately warn her of the dangers of smoking. Never mind that she was a three pack-a-day smoker for the better part of thirty years. She claimed she began smoking before she reached the age of accountability. She was hopelessly addicted to cigarettes before she became aware of their dangers, she said.
She quit smoking a year ago, just before she learned she had inoperable lung cancer. It is a sad story to be sure, but here is the kicker. She did not believe the labels on cigarette packs which warned that smoking could cause cancer. Health warnings have appeared on cigarette packs since 1966. At three packs-a-day she may have smoked more than a half million cigarettes and failed to heed the warning. Only after reading about the ill effects of smoking on the internet did she finally believe that smoking could be harmful.
If people don't believe the warnings and won't try to quit, there is nothing we can do for them short of making cigarettes illegal. Cigarette makers are far from saints, but why are they being held totally liable for her lack of personal responsibility.
Norman E, Adams, Trustee
Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse/Houston