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Children and Cigarettes

Children don't deserve blame

December 30, 2010

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I USUALLY find opinions offered by Jeff Jacoby to be well-reasoned and persuasive. That said, his Dec. 22 op-ed (“Don’t fault tobacco firm for death’’) displayed logical shortcomings.

His essential premise was that because Marie Evans chose to smoke, a jury should not have ordered Lorillard Inc. to compensate her estate for more than $150 million. In coming to his conclusion, Jacoby noted that while Lorillard indeed handed out free cigarettes in the 1950s and 1960s, it merely handed out a lawful product. Jacoby neglected to mention that it was not lawful for Lorillard to hand out cigarettes to a minor child.

Then Jacoby went on to blame Evans for her decision to smoke as a child, noting “if she could resist the lure of tobacco until she was 12, she could have resisted it at 13.’’ The entire point is that Lorillard evidently understood that children could not resist the lure of smoking the cigarette handouts forever. That’s why the children kept receiving them, even if they didn’t smoke them at age 9, 10, 11, or 12.

Jacoby suggests that the demonizing of tobacco companies is misplaced. To an extent, he has a point. Cigarettes, after all, are a legal product. But without question, the demonizing of a child lured by a cigarette company into smoking is grossly misplaced.

Dustin Dow
Newton