The Vindicator's editorial on the $150 milliion verdict in Oregon
against a cigarette company is on the mark in many respects but
misses the target in one important area.
It correctly describes the American tort law system as sometimes & quot;out of touch with reality. & quot;
It also supports spending the money Ohio has received from the
Federal tobacco lawsuit to deter smoking by Ohioans, rather than
diverting it to other uses. The latter point is underscored by an
article farther back in the same issue of The Vindicator, reporting
that smoking by Ohio teens is going up, not down.
The editorial's weakness is its assumption that smokers can quit if
they want to. There is overwhelming evidence that nicotine causes a
true addiction, typically acquired in the teen years before people
are mature enough to understand the health risks they will face as
smokers. Tobacco use causes about 400,000 premature deaths in the U.
S. each year, or more than 1,000 each day. To put it another way,
smoking kills as many Americans every three days as died in the
September 11 disaster.
ROBERT D. GILLETTE, MD