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March 25, 1992

The Law, Public Policy, and the Peddlers of Tobacco-Reply

Author Affiliations

American Society of Law and Medicine Boston, Mass
Harvard Medical School Boston, Mass
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

JAMA. 1992;267(12):1614. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480120051031

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In Reply.  —Each of the above letters supports stronger governmental regulation of tobacco manufacturers and sellers. Dr Priver, however, rejects indirect regulation through the tort system because smokers should not be permitted to shift responsibility for their own health decisions to tobacco companies. Certainly, individuals should heed public health advice and government warnings to stop smoking. But if smokers can demonstrate that cigarette manufacturers knowingly concealed information they had in their possession about the dangers of smoking or intentionally mislead consumers, why should the law shield producers from their responsibilities and potential liability? As we state in our article, the worst outcome of the Cipollone case would be to grant cigarette companies preferred status when all other manufacturers still had to defend the safety of their products and the adequacy of their warnings in the court system.In January, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Cipollone case for