[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
September 18, 1996

The Ledger of Tobacco Control

Author Affiliations

George Washington University Medical Center Arlington, Va

JAMA. 1996;276(11):872-873. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540110026022

To the Editor.  —Several aspects of the Editorial by Dr Davis1 left me somewhat uncomfortable.First, Davis welcomes "class-action and personal-injury lawsuits... against the [tobacco] industry." He notes the Liggett Group recently paid a monetary settlement in several such cases. Yet Davis failed to explain how a redistribution of wealth away from tobacco companies and toward plaintiffs and their attorneys translates into fewer people smoking. It cannot simply be assumed that successful lawsuits against tobacco manufacturers will discourage people from smoking or encourage current smokers to quit. The reader is left to infer that a tobacco industry sufficiently battered by costly litigation will simply give up, go away, or start manufacturing mechanical pencils instead of cigarettes.Second, Davis makes no argument that individuals who believe they can recover large sums of money from their addiction will therefore be less likely to pick up the smoking habit or, having already started, will be