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Florida Product Liability Attorney Discusses the Deceptive Marketing Used by Tobacco Companies

01/22/2020
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Florida Product Liability Attorney Discusses The Responsibility of Tobacco Companies In Deception and Cigarette Addiction

Lindsay: Hi, my name is Lindsay Reinhart. I’m an attorney [product liability] here at Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley.

Tobacco litigation [product liability] is very unique in that I think it deals with a lot of aspects beyond just tobacco companies. We deal with different issues every day, ranging from trust and estate issues that come up, bankruptcy issues that come up. And it’s exciting because every day I’m learning something new, I’m doing something new. And at some point, I feel like maybe I’ll know what I’m going to do today, or I’ll know what’s going to happen today, but that’s never the case. It’s always something new and I like that part of it because I’m always on my toes, it’s always exciting, and you never stop learning.

So, I think a lot of people these days do think, especially people my age, believe that people who smoke if they get sick if they get injured, they’ve brought it on themselves. They knew the risks, they knew the dangers, and they chose to smoke anyway. Having come into this tobacco litigation, I’ve learned that it’s so much more than that, and it’s so much deeper. And these companies had just been lying to people from the ’50s and ’60s. And people who started smoking as teenagers in the ’20s and ’30s had no idea what they were getting themselves into or what they were getting themselves in for. And so it’s not a choice they made based on doing something safe versus unsafe. They didn’t know that what they were doing could hurt them in any way. So, learning what the tobacco companies did and how deceitful they were has been really eye-opening for me.

The tobacco industries spend millions and millions of dollars to try and encourage people to smoke. They do that even today, but back in the ’50s and ’60s, they were using sports stars and celebrities to encourage people to smoke because they were trying to tell people that it was the cool thing to do. And that’s what people believed. I think over 60% of the male population smoked. It might be even higher than that. And, for them, that was just the way of life. They didn’t know any different. And even once the ’70s or ’80s rolled around and people started learning that the tobacco companies had been lying to them and cigarette smoking wasn’t safe, they were addicted at that point. And even though they might have tried to quit, nicotine addiction is one of the strongest addictions and one of the hardest habits to break. And so you’re at this point where you feel helpless and they were just sucked in by that tobacco advertising.

So, when research started coming out that tobacco and nicotine maybe wasn’t healthy for you, the tobacco companies created their own research institutes that started providing false research to counteract the studies that were being done showing that nicotine was addictive and unhealthy and could cause lung cancer. And so people who were addicted wanted to believe what the tobacco companies were saying and wanted to believe that nicotine wasn’t harmful. And that’s another reason why people who were addicted to smoking found it harder to quit. So, in the 1990s when the head of the seven largest tobacco companies stood in Congress and raised their hands and said they believed that nicotine was not addictive…

Man 1: …our products are addictive.

Man 2: I believe nicotine is not addictive.

Man 3: I believe that nicotine is not addictive.

Man 4: I believe that nicotine is not addictive.

Man 5: And I too believe that nicotine is not addictive.

Lindsay: …it’s hard to not get angry when you see that. And it’s hard to not think that these are just some of the most deceitful and horrendous companies in the United States and across the world because they have no regard for human life. They want money and that’s their driving force.

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