Tobacco Companies, Your Thoughts?

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nuckfan15
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Tobacco Companies, Your Thoughts?

Post by nuckfan15 » Fri Sep 30, 2005 5:06 am

CBC News wrote: In a major blow to tobacco companies, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the British Columbia government can sue cigarette companies for the cost of treating smoking-related illnesses.
The B.C. government can now sue cigarette companies for public health care costs from treating smoking-related illnesses. (Getty Images)

The 9-0 judgment upholds provincial legislation that allows the government to seek damages to cover public health care costs dating back 50 years, and future costs for illness linked to tobacco.

The law further makes it easier to prove a link between smoking and disease.

With as much as $10 billion at stake in B.C. alone, the tobacco companies see the ruling as a major setback. It is widely expected that the other provinces will follow suit, potentially costing firms hundreds of billions in settlements. Newfoundland has already passed a similar act which was waiting for the Supreme Court decision.

B.C. filed suit last year against three major Canadian manufacturers, Imperial Tobacco, JTI-Macdonald and Rothmans, Benson and Hedges. Also named in the suit were the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers' Council and nine foreign firms, including such industry heavyweights as British American Tobacco and Philip Morris.


The suit was put on hold, however, after the companies claimed that that the B.C. legislature was improperly trying to impose provincial law on matters that fell outside its jurisdiction. They further argued that the special rules of evidence laid out by the legislation violated judicial independence and the fundamental rule of law.

"The new rules are not necessarily unfair," Justice John Major wrote for the court. "Indeed, tobacco manufacturers sued pursuant to the (British Columbian) act will receive a fair civil trial..."

The government maintained the legislation was a legitimate effort to hold the industry to account for decades of misleading advertising and other actions that contributed to the spread of smoking as a health hazard.

The B.C. initiative was modelled on similar lawsuits launched by many American states against tobacco manufacturers in the 1990s. Tobacco firms eventually agreed to pay $245 billion US over 25 years to defray health costs for treating smoking-related illnesses.

Nobody knows how high similar claims could go in Canada, but the Health Department estimates that it costs $4 billion annually to treat tobacco-related illness.

There are concerns that some of the companies may be driven into bankruptcy by the decision. The tobacco companies have dismissed such concerns, saying that the British Columbia lawsuit could take many years to make its way through the courts as every calculation of how much they owe is challenged.


Other Links:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/smoking/timeline.html
http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national ... 50608.html

Its about time, thats all I can say!


*Sorry for the bias Canadian Information, but I thought this topic could open up a discussion for anything tobbacco related.
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Post by Darth Wong » Fri Sep 30, 2005 5:52 am

The problem with threads of this nature is that defenders of the big tobacco companies will invariably claim that you are trying to "shift blame" from the users to the producers.

No one but the users is to blame for their own mistakes, but no one but the producers is to blame for their own lies and negligence. So any argument about the complicity and liability of tobacco companies in health-care costs associated with smoking should focus solely on two questions:

1) Have they lied to the public about the risks of smoking? Historically, the answer is unquestionably yes.

2) Have they been negligent? Most people have no training in industrial negligence law so they don't even know exactly what this question really means. But in engineering we must know something about industrial liability and are given training in that field by necessity, and I can tell you that tobacco companies are definitely negligent. If you are aware of any risks posed by your products you must proactively inform the authorities and the public. But we know that the industry officially downplayed the risks for decades, lied before government boards of inquiry, and sat on research about those risks.
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Post by T-Y-F » Fri Sep 30, 2005 5:56 am

While i do believe that tobacco companies deal in something that is dangerous and harmfull, as a smoker i think people should take responsibility for their actions.

Why dont the governments just make the sale of tobacco illegal if it costs to much to treat the people who fall sick through using it?
Maybe it's because of the billions they make from the tax involved in the sales of tobacco.

On one hand they are saying they should be paid to cover the costs of health care, and on the other hand they wont make it illegal because they make so much money from taxing the sales of it.
Its a bit hypocritical, dont you think?

I dont know about over there, but in england (where all of our health care is state funded) the tax they get from the sales of tobacco more than covers the cost of treating the people who become sick from it.
It pays for its self.

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Post by nuckfan15 » Fri Sep 30, 2005 6:00 am

T-Y-F wrote: While i do believe that tobacco companies deal in something that is dangerous and harmfull, as a smoker i think people should take responsibility for their actions.

Why dont the governments just make the sale of tobacco illegal if it costs to much to treat the people who fall sick through using it?
Maybe it's because of the billions they make from the tax involved in the sales of tobacco.

If this was the answer, smoking would no longer be a problem, but it is, people are addicted to nicotine, so this wont ever happen.
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Post by Darth Wong » Fri Sep 30, 2005 6:03 am

T-Y-F wrote: While i do believe that tobacco companies deal in something that is dangerous and harmfull, as a smoker i think people should take responsibility for their actions.

Totally irrelevant to the question of whether the corporations in question were lying and/or negligent. Do you think corporations should not take responsibility for their actions or inactions?
Why dont the governments just make the sale of tobacco illegal if it costs to much to treat the people who fall sick through using it?
Maybe it's because of the billions they make from the tax involved in the sales of tobacco.

Once again, irrelevant to the question of whether the corporations in question were lying and/or negligent.
On one hand they are saying they should be paid to cover the costs of health care, and on the other hand they wont make it illegal because they make so much money from taxing the sales of it.
Its a bit hypocritical, dont you think?

Once again, irrelevant to the question of whether the corporations in question were lying and/or negligent.
I dont know about over there, but in england (where all of our health care is state funded) the tax they get from the sales of tobacco more than covers the cost of treating the people who become sick from it.
It pays for its self.

Once again, irrelevant to the question of whether the corporations in question were lying and/or negligent. And I would like to see support for this claim, because tobacco-related health care costs are estimated to be $73 billion per year in the US (see Berkeley study) and I would be rather surprised if they are collecting that much tobacco tax. Is that UK that much different?
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Post by T-Y-F » Fri Sep 30, 2005 6:19 am

Is black and decker negligent if you drill a hole in your brain?
Unless you are suggesting that some people still think smoking is harmless i dont see how tobacco companies could be negligent. Everybody is aware of the risks. The risks are known very well.
Maybe 50 years ago what you are saying could be true, but this is 2005, dont pretend there are some people who are unaware of the risks, because that is just a lie.

If anybody should be sued to cover the costs of health care it should be the people doing the smoking.

It just dosn't make sense that they can sue over health care costs created by a product but still make the sales of the product legal.
You seriously cant believe that this makes sense.

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Post by the rat » Fri Sep 30, 2005 6:28 am

T-Y-F wrote: Is black and decker negligent if you drill a hole in your brain?


But go back a few decades and you will see these smoking companies telling us that smoking is not harmful and actually good for our health. This is, I believe, where the court cases are being fought. Did the companies say smoking was good for us and, more to the point, did they know that they were telling lies.

So to join it with your analogy if the companies did know it was harmful but didn't warn the public and lied to them it would be like Black and Decker telling us in the 50's and 60's to drill holes in our brains.

If that's the case, don't you think they should be liable?

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Post by T-Y-F » Fri Sep 30, 2005 6:41 am

When this was happening advertising laws and product testing was a lot different than it is today. I dont think we can use current law to prosecute against "crimes" that were commited in a time when the crimes were actually legal.

Back then lying was a big part fo advertising, but then, its upto government agencies to decide on advertising laws and what can or can not be said when promoting a product. So if the tobacco companies were wrong to be lying, the people who make the lwas were wrong to allow it.

The bottom line is, if its wrong it should be illegal.. not just used as something to cash in on.

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Post by smithy_dll » Fri Sep 30, 2005 7:31 am

The point is even back then the Cigarette companies knew that smoking was bad for you, and kept those documents locked up, and when independent scienfific research came to light those documents started ending up in the shredded.

The thing is they covered up the harmful effects.


Your analogy is flawed. Black and deckers products do not entice you to drill a hole in your head repeatedly. If the product is used as intended you will be perfectly safe. The cigarette companies however actually knew that the use of a cigarette in the intended manner was harmful.

If it was found black & decker products had mind altering devices in them which coerced people into self-harm and covered the fact up, then that would be the same thing.

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Post by Darth Wong » Fri Sep 30, 2005 8:20 am

T-Y-F wrote: Is black and decker negligent if you drill a hole in your brain?

If they told people that it was safe to do so, yes.
Unless you are suggesting that some people still think smoking is harmless i dont see how tobacco companies could be negligent.

Clearly, you have no comprehension whatsoever of what the word "negligent" means.
Everybody is aware of the risks. The risks are known very well. Maybe 50 years ago what you are saying could be true, but this is 2005, dont pretend there are some people who are unaware of the risks, because that is just a lie.

Irrelevant to the question of whether the tobacco companies have been negligent. Even if everyone knows that you can't safely drill a hole in your head, it is still negligent to tell people it's OK.
If anybody should be sued to cover the costs of health care it should be the people doing the smoking.

This is what you're trying to prove with your argument. You can't prove it by simply stating it as a fact.
It just dosn't make sense that they can sue over health care costs created by a product but still make the sales of the product legal.
You seriously cant believe that this makes sense.

You can't refute an argument by simply throwing up your hands in shock and surprise at it either.
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Post by Natan » Fri Sep 30, 2005 1:09 pm

I think we all agree that indeed, tobacco companies should be considered negligent for cases where the smoker started smoking over 50 years ago. (Anyone know when tobacco companies were mandated to start printing warnings?)

In this day and age, there is enough education out there that people should know that smoking is bad, and I don't think that the companies should be sued for one's own smoking problems.

There have been similar lawsuits against gun manufacturers, where people tried suing the gunmakers for various crimes that have been committed by people using their guns. I think in both cases, the manufacturers are not at fault.
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Post by Darth Wong » Fri Sep 30, 2005 2:34 pm

Natan wrote: I think we all agree that indeed, tobacco companies should be considered negligent for cases where the smoker started smoking over 50 years ago. (Anyone know when tobacco companies were mandated to start printing warnings?)

Where did you get this "50 year" figure from? Tobacco companies were still denying many of the health risks of smoking as recently as 20 years ago, even when they had in-house studies contradicting their own public stances.
In this day and age, there is enough education out there that people should know that smoking is bad, and I don't think that the companies should be sued for one's own smoking problems.

No, but they can be sued for their own negligence, not to mention targeting advertising at kids: something they're not supposed to be doing.
There have been similar lawsuits against gun manufacturers, where people tried suing the gunmakers for various crimes that have been committed by people using their guns. I think in both cases, the manufacturers are not at fault.

How many times do I have to explain that a simplistic calculus of "who's at fault" has nothing to do with the question of whether someone is negligent, nor does blame have to be apportioned onlyin 100% quantities?
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Post by Bobble » Fri Sep 30, 2005 2:42 pm

As mentioned elsewhere the tobacco companies have covered up findings that proved that smoking can cause cancer in the past. As they have historically taken this stance they cannot reverse it without litigation that would effectively shut them down.

In this day and age it would be scientifically possible to produce a cigarette that is non-carcinogenic but as soon as a tobacco company did this it would be acknowledging that they know that cigarettes are harmful and would be liable to litigation.

So we are stuck with an addictive, cancer causing cigarette.

Ban them I say or if not tax them so highly that people would be put off buying them.

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Post by TC » Fri Sep 30, 2005 2:47 pm

we've been through this and it went nowhere other than making people angry with each other. do we really want/need to do this again?
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Post by Kanuck » Fri Sep 30, 2005 2:47 pm

Darth Wong wrote:
Natan wrote:I think we all agree that indeed, tobacco companies should be considered negligent for cases where the smoker started smoking over 50 years ago. (Anyone know when tobacco companies were mandated to start printing warnings?)

Where did you get this "50 year" figure from? Tobacco companies were still denying many of the health risks of smoking as recently as 20 years ago, even when they had in-house studies contradicting their own public stances.

And regardless, whether it was 20 or 50 years ago, those people are still around today, still dying of emphysema and lung cancer.

The government, especially one such as Canada's, does not prohibit tobacco sales because such an action would likely be unconstitutional. Using the nation's own legal system is the best way to acheive their current goals.
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