RJ Reynolds told to pay wife of cancer victim $23.6bn

kolax

macrumors G3
Original poster
Mar 20, 2007
9,188
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Via the BBC: A US court has ordered the country's second largest cigarette company to pay $23.6 billion (£13.8bn) to the wife of a smoker who died of lung cancer.

I'm struggling to understand what the judge is thinking awarding so much - am I missing something?
 

Zombie Acorn

macrumors 65816
Feb 2, 2009
1,301
9,062
Toronto, Ontario
Anyone who smoked after 1966 when cigerettes were required to label their packaging as hazardous should be on their own imo unless they can prove second hand smoke caused the issue.

If you are lighting up for 30 years after knowing something is hazardous then its your own fault.
 

jkcerda

macrumors 6502a
Jun 10, 2013
682
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Criminal Mexi Midget
Anyone who smoked after 1966 when cigerettes were required to label their packaging as hazardous should be on their own imo unless they can prove second hand smoke caused the issue.

If you are lighting up for 30 years after knowing something is hazardous then its your own fault.
EXACTLY, everyone has known smoking is bad for a while, the guy was smoking on the day he died.
 

capathy21

macrumors 65816
Jun 16, 2014
1,365
534
Houston, Texas
As a smoker I agree that no one is at fault but the man himself. I know exactly what it can do to me, yet I chose to do it, just like he did.
 

samiwas

macrumors 68000
Aug 26, 2006
1,575
3,518
Atlanta, GA
I saw this story yesterday and just giggled. How could anyone think that award amount was even close to reasonable? She'll probably end up with a few million. She'll be happy, RJ Reynolds won't even notice the missing pocket change, and life will go on.
 

MacNut

macrumors Core
Jan 4, 2002
21,544
7,802
CT
All of these companies should be brought up on murder charges as that is what they are doing to their customers.

I don't care if they say, well people know smoking is bad but they do it anyways. It doesn't matter. Sell something addictive with the intent to kill them you should be held responsible.
 

Naimfan

Suspended
Jan 15, 2003
4,669
1,996
A few notes:

1. The jury came up with the figure, not the judge.

2. Remittitur.

3. Compensatory damages are likely to be reduced as well.
 

Martin29

macrumors 6502
Nov 25, 2010
279
24
Quimper, France
All of these companies should be brought up on murder charges as that is what they are doing to their customers.

I don't care if they say, well people know smoking is bad but they do it anyways. It doesn't matter. Sell something addictive with the intent to kill them you should be held responsible.
Exactly.

If you or I were to do something which we knew to be likely to cause illness and death to one person, let alone millions, we'd rightly be be facing a judge and jury.

For too many years these giant companies have been given a licence to kill, and in my view every single penny they ever made in profit should be awarded to their victims.

Of course it won't happen because our governments are complicit. There's too many billions in tax revenue at stake!
 

APlotdevice

macrumors 68040
Sep 3, 2011
3,109
3,749
Anyone who smoked after 1966 when cigerettes were required to label their packaging as hazardous should be on their own imo unless they can prove second hand smoke caused the issue.

If you are lighting up for 30 years after knowing something is hazardous then its your own fault.
You're forgetting that tobacco is a highly addictive substance. Far more addictive than marijuana.
 

prostuff1

macrumors 65816
Jul 29, 2005
1,484
18
Don't step into the kawoosh...
You're forgetting that tobacco is a highly addictive substance. Far more addictive than marijuana.
Please, only a weak willed person could not stop smoking, even with tobacco being addictive.

It almost always comes down to the person not truly wanting to quit. I would guess that everyone that smokes knows they should quit but say they "can't". What they really meant to say was they "won't/don't want to".
 

VulchR

macrumors 68020
Jun 8, 2009
2,329
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Scotland
In my opinion the tobacco industry amounts to organised crime - they intentionally sell a psychoactive drug that is known to be dangerous. Thus, on the one hand this judgement seems excessive if the life of one person is considered. On the hand, it is not as though the tobacco companies did not know they were selling a potentially lethal product.

Please, only a weak willed person could not stop smoking, even with tobacco being addictive.
Smoking has a higher relapse rate during attempted abstinence than taking heroin. If you think that your behaviour is solely determined by your 'will', then there are a few psychologists you should know about. We can start with a guy named Pavlov....
 

prostuff1

macrumors 65816
Jul 29, 2005
1,484
18
Don't step into the kawoosh...
Smoking has a higher relapse rate during attempted abstinence than taking heroin.
Source, mostly because I am interested in reading it.

If you think that your behaviour is solely determined by your 'will', then there are a few psychologists you should know about. We can start with a guy named Pavlov....
I understand the psychology behind it, and the effects it can have on a person. I still think it comes down to will power and a person truly wanting to quit.

egics are a better alternative and are at least healthier for everyone around the smoker as there is no second hand smoke. It can also be cheaper from what I understand.
 

sviato

macrumors 68020
Oct 27, 2010
2,274
44
HR 9038 A
I believe there is precedent that punitive damages shouldn't exceed compensatory damages by more than 10-1, and the compensatory damages are much lower so that much won't be paid out.
 

Charcoalwerks

macrumors regular
Jul 14, 2011
203
133
Maryland
egics are a better alternative and are at least healthier for everyone around the smoker as there is no second hand smoke. It can also be cheaper from what I understand.
I second this. I quit cigarettes for a couple years, than out of stupidity went to cheap cigars. Now I've been "vaping" for over four months and I've had no desire to go back to anything I have to light on fire.
 

Phil A.

Moderator
Staff member
Apr 2, 2006
5,499
2,280
Shropshire, UK
I second this. I quit cigarettes for a couple years, than out of stupidity went to cheap cigars. Now I've been "vaping" for over four months and I've had no desire to go back to anything I have to light on fire.
Same here, except it's been 5 years for me. I was firmly in the "don't want to quit, even though it's killing me" camp as I really enjoyed smoking. I started using e-cigs as a way of enjoying nicotine, which is about as "harmful" as caffeine (source: http://tobaccoharmreduction.org/faq/nicotine.htm ) without polluting the air for people around me and since then my health has improved massively and I have seen no reason to stop the e-cigs :)
 

samiwas

macrumors 68000
Aug 26, 2006
1,575
3,518
Atlanta, GA
I just want to make sure I have the gist of this thread down...

Cigarettes kill people and the companies who manufacture them should be brought up on murder charges?

Is that about right?
 

vrDrew

macrumors 65816
Jan 31, 2010
1,317
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Midlife, Midwest
A few notes:
1. The jury came up with the figure, not the judge.
Yes.

When looking at stories like this one, its important to take into account the source.

In this case, it is the (normally reliable) BBC. But in this particular instance there is something of a disconnect. In Britain, damages are determined by Judges. A compensation award made by a High Court in Britain is a very, very different "fact" than a Judgement from a Florida personal injury jury.

I think most Americans understand this (we are pretty much immune to the "shock" of an outrageous liability award) - so be careful when reading stories about things going on in the US from a source based in Britain.
 

Michael Goff

Suspended
Jul 5, 2012
13,262
7,298
Please, only a weak willed person could not stop smoking, even with tobacco being addictive.

It almost always comes down to the person not truly wanting to quit. I would guess that everyone that smokes knows they should quit but say they "can't". What they really meant to say was they "won't/don't want to".
I take it you have no clue what a chemical addiction does to a brain, right?
 

VulchR

macrumors 68020
Jun 8, 2009
2,329
10,254
Scotland
Source, mostly because I am interested in reading it.
....
I understand the psychology behind it, and the effects it can have on a person. I still think it comes down to will power and a person truly wanting to quit.
One source, although there are many, is The Health Consequences Of Smoking, which was written by the US Surgeon General in 1988. On page 314 work on relapse/abstinence rates is cited that shows that the proportion of people who avoid relapse is lower at 3 and 6 months of abstinence for smokers than heroin users and alcoholics (see Figure 2). However, I admit the the relapse rate for smoking, heroin and alcohol are nearly the same even if smoking has greatest likelihood of relapse.

As for will power, addictive drugs all affect dopamine neurons in the midbrain. The same dopamine neurons can be seen in all mammals and even in other 'lower' vertebrates (heck, there are even dopamine neurons in insects). I seriously doubt that your forebrain, which seems to be necessary and sufficient for acts of will, can do bugger all about controlling the midbrain. We all go through our life desperately clinging to the idea that our will determines our behaviour. 'I did because I chose to.' or some such nonsense. Well, it simply ain't always so, and indeed what we call 'will' is often a post-hoc confabulation that rationalises behaviour we truly do not understand. The reason why it is important to understand that not all behaviour is willed is that it might make us less judgemental of addicts.
 
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