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Why Are Cigarette Companies Still Being Forced To Pay Smokers Who Get Cancer?

Submitted by on February 14, 2011 – 1:01 pm8 Comments
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It’s 2011. And that means that there a few pretty basic things that we should know by now. Like that eating fast food (and any food that contains as many trans fats as a Whopper!) are likely to cause us to become more and more obese as a nation. And that drinking and driving is a good way to increase the number of fatalities on U.S. highways. And that—surprise, freakin’ surprise!—smoking is one of the leading causes of cancer.

At least, you’d think that we should know these things by now. But just as we continue to shovel supersized containers of french fries into our systems and get behind the wheel after having “a few drinks,” we haven’t seemed to comprehend that smoking cigarettes is bad for our health and can cause cancer.

I bring this up because a man from Tampa, Florida just won a $260,000 settlement in the Florida court system against tobacco company R.J. Reynolds after he sued them when he developed lung cancer from smoking cigarettes. And while I don’t want to sound completely insensitive to this man’s plight, is he out of his mind?

We’ve known for quite a few years now that cigarettes are not good for us. Aside from the fact that they yellow our teeth, stain our fingers, and give us shortness of breath (that contributes to that obesity problem in America!), they also are a known source of cancer. That’s right: CIGARETTES CAUSE CANCER! Yet, we haven’t grasped the fact that if we smoke cigarettes, we need to be held responsible for what may happen as a result of us doing it.

Years ago, suing cigarette companies seemed a little more acceptable than it is today. People didn’t always know the risks associated with cigarettes and tobacco companies were not quick to let us all know about the health risks associated with them. But after hearing about all the studies that have been done on them and seeing the effects that they have, we must each be held accountable for what may happen if we use cigarettes.

All of the tobacco-related lawsuits that are being brought up in Florida—and in states around the country—are a gross misuse of the legal system. There are currently thousands and thousands of them active and they are clogging up the courts. In this particular situation, there’s a good chance R.J. Reynolds will appeal the court’s decision and take the Tampa man who just won $260K back to court to try and get the ruling overturned. And the truth is that they should do that. Why, after all, should they be held responsible for a single man catching cancer as a result of him doing something that he knew could cause the cancer?

At some point, we all need to take a look in the mirror and realize that we can’t blame a large corporation for our problems. Just like we need to put down the cheeseburgers and make better decisions after we drink, we need to hold ourselves accountable when it comes to smoking cigarettes. If you choose to light up, you have to deal with the consequences that may come with it. There’s no place for taking a company to court to try and collect money for something that you willingly chose to do.

Like I said, it’s 2011 and we should know better at this point. Stop looking to blame someone else for your problems—especially if it’s a problem that you could have prevented in the first place.

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