IN HIS Dec. 22 Op-ed column “Don’t fault tobacco firm for death,’’ Jeff Jacoby defends personal responsibility for one’s actions. It seems that he particularly values such responsibility when the person happens to be an individual consumer of a deadly and addictive product who started as a child, but not when the person is an adult manufacturer, marketer, and distributor of that product.
Thankfully, Jacoby did not sit on the Suffolk Superior Court jury that saw and heard all the evidence, including from the company’s own internal documents, about Lorillard’s campaign to target youth for addiction to Newport cigarettes. The “base of our business is the high school student,’’ said one marketing executive in a 1978 memo, referring to Newports.
After six days of deliberations, the jury found Marie Evans 30 percent responsible for her death, but found that Lorillard’s conduct was so reprehensible that it was 70 percent responsible for Evans’s death and should be assessed both compensatory and punitive damages.
Evans bore the ultimate responsibility for her conduct by dying a painful death from lung cancer at the young age of 54. The jury properly found that Lorillard Tobacco Co. should finally be held accountable, if only financially, for its conduct.
Edward L. Sweda Jr.
Public Health Advocacy Institute
School of Law