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September 18, 1996

The Ledger of Tobacco Control

Author Affiliations

University of California, San Francisco
Alexandria, Va

JAMA. 1996;276(11):872. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540110026021

To the Editor.  —Three points should be kept in mind by antismoking advocates, especially if they desire some credibility in the eyes of a skeptical public who are not nearly as committed to the current crusade against the tobacco industry.1First, whether addictive or not in the long-term, cigarettes are not instantly addictive. It takes considerable smoking before addiction occurs. There must be a reason for it, the reason is pleasure, and that pleasure does not cease with addiction.Second, since cigarettes have been called "coffin nails" for nearly a century,2 those who started smoking after then cannot seriously claim not to have known smoking was unhealthy. And anyone who did start smoking before then and is still alive would be hard pressed to claim to have lost years of potential life because of smoking.Third, it is hypocritical to sue tobacco companies for medical costs of treating those whose lives