Thursday, February 19, 2009

At what point . . .

. . . do we stop awarding millions upon millions upon millions of dollars in settlements?

Go here! Basically, a FL woman was awarded 8 million in her lawsuit against Phillip-Morris Tobacco company because her husband was addicted to cigarettes and died at age 55. Now, this case will go into appeal - over and over and over again - and the settlement will most likely be reduced.

Now, I'm not immune to the woman's loss. I'm not immune to the fact that the tobacco companies allegedly knew that nicotine was highly addictive and did nothing for decades to warn people about the dangers of smoking. I know all of this. I also know that ever since I can remember, there have been Surgeon General warnings about the dangers of cigarette smoking.

Now, I don't know all the details of the case, but, if I knew about the Surgeon General's warnings, then I can guess that the man in question knew about them as well. So, he knew and yet did not stop smoking. Hmmmm! BTW - the jury found the man 58% responsible since he did not quit smoking. 58%!!!!! Okay!

Now, I'm going to sound very callous here, so be prepared. Had the man never heard of Nicorette or any of the smoking deterrents available? Had he tried any of them? Again, I don't know the full details of the case, so I can't say for sure. I can say that my father, back in 1968, quit smoking cold turkey . . . after having a 2 pack per day habit. My mother quit cold turkey (at age 69 I might add, after smoking since she was about 20) in 1994. She had tried to quit numerous times before and couldn't - the addiction, and all that jazz. What finally made her quit? She coughed up blood one day. That, dear readers, was enough to get her to stop smoking. Now, thankfully, the blood had nothing to do with cancer . . . just some other health issue that has since been resolved. The point is, she quit. The point is, my mother knew the risks of cigarette smoking and still smoked . . . as do countless other people. I have many friends and coworkers that smoke. I understand it is an addiction. I just do not think the tobacco companies should have to shell out millions upon millions upon millions of dollars when people know the risks and keep smoking.

Yes, a man lost his life because of his addiction to cigarettes. Perhaps he didn't read the Surgeon General's warning on the package. Perhaps he had an addictive personality and the first puff was all it took. Perhaps he tried every trick in the book to quit smoking . . . and failed. I don't know. I just think that the tobacco companies shouldn't be held entirely responsible for human behavior (i.e., the choice to smoke or not, knowing the risks, even after the fact).

Again, I'm sorry the woman lost her husband. I just think we have become a society that will sue for whatever reason, without accepting responsibility for our own actions. I'm just saying . . .