Tobacco Litigation and the Youth










 

Tobacco Litigation and the Youth

 

Abstract

Over the years
the tobacco industry has faced a number of controversies. Even though it has
been accused of everything short of murder it has managed to survive and
thrive. Yet, the trend is changing the consumers are no longer to sit back and
sign their death warrants and those of their children as they inhale the deadly
smoke that emerges from the manufacturer product. They are fighting back and
the law is backing them all the way. (Pierce JP et al 1991)

 

Introduction.

The business of
making tobacco products has come into the limelight as the conspiracy theories
of the industry are being revealed. Through the litigation being carried out
against them, it has been seen that the industry players are an oligopoly in a
free market and are against the consumer. They have no values for the rights of
the consumers and are working for sheer profit. They have together created the
trend of suppressing the development of less hazardous cigarettes so that there
are no ways for comparison against the more harmful cigarettes.

The reason for
this is simple. The industry is one that is dependent on its product. If one
company accuses another of making a product that is harmful or addictive the
other companies will follow suit and if this happens the consumer would have to
sit up and listen. They would then realize that all is not rosy and the message
being given to them that smoking is something done by successful, healthy,
young, smiling people with very white teeth is wrong. (Herbert B. 1998)

 

False Advertising

The tobacco
industry is facing charges of false advertising. For years the firms have
targeted the audience making false claims---in spite of knowing the harm that
the product causes. With the emergence of the global market the consumers have
gotten smarter and realize that the tobacco companies have been giving them the
wrong information regarding the marketing of their product. (New York Times;
October 11, 1998.)

Consider the
statements being made by the representatives of the tobacco companies that
smoking is harmless. In 1994, the CEO\'s of seven tobacco companies testified,
under oath, that nicotine is not addictive. And yet, the tobacco companies have
long known that nicotine is addictive. One industry document from 1963 says, “
. . . nicotine is addictive. We are . . . in the business of selling nicotine,
an addictive drug." (http://www.womenof.com/Articles/le030298.asp)

Similarly the
tobacco industry has known that smoking causes cancer and yet, they have made
public claims that have stated that they do not have conclusive proof of the
fact.

Yet, in their
own files, the tobacco companies had plenty of proof that smoking cigarettes
does cause cancer. A 1961 confidential memorandum, for example, describes
cigarette tobacco as:

1.      Cancer
causing;

2.      Cancer
promoting;

3.      Poisonous;
[and]

4.      Stimulating,
pleasurable, and flavorful.

 

Adolescent Smoking

What has really
created the fervor against the tobacco industry is the realization that they
are targeting our future and crippling it. It is targeting the youth. According
to a U.S. Surgeon General\'s Report, every day 3,000 children become smokers. Of
those 3,000 kids, 1,000 will die prematurely because of their tobacco habit.
Tobacco use among minors has risen dramatically in recent years, despite the
fact that it remains illegal for minors to purchase tobacco. Every year,
425,000 Americans die from smoking—a habit most of them began as teenagers. To
put that number in perspective, think about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
That\'s seven times the number of names on the Vietnam wall.
(http://www.womenof.com/Articles/le030298.asp)

The fact is that
smoking for youth fewer than eighteen years of age is considered illegal and
yet, companies still cater to the kids breaking the law---time and time again.
Joe Camel is —although it\'s not the only one is one —of advertising aimed
directly, and successfully, at kids.

According to
files from the tobacco industry polls were analyzed regarding the best manner
in which to sell cigarettes to kids from the age of 14-18. Kids were encouraged
to shoplift to get cigarettes so that in the future they would become good
customers.

Philip Morris\'s
Marlboro, became the dominant brand by the early 1970s on the strength of its
appeal to young baby boomers. Documents show that every manufacturer sought to
replicate that success. "Today\'s teenager is tomorrow\'s potential regular
customer, and the overwhelming majority of smokers first begin to smoke while
in their teens," noted a 1981 Philip Morris corporate memo. "At least
part of the success of Marlboro Red during its most rapid growth period was
because it became the brand of choice among teenagers who then stuck with it as
they grew older." The document defined teenagers as