And it worked. When my parents were young, everybody smoked.
Doctors smoked. Athletes smoked. Pregnant women smoked. Their kids came out of
the womb looking around the delivery room for an ashtray to ash their Lucky
Strikes. Everyone smoked.
The change began in 1964, when the first surgeon general's
warning about smoking and cancer scared the bejesus out of everybody. In 1971,
cigarette ads were banned from TV, and much later they disappeared from
billboards. Little by little, smoking was restricted in airplanes and airports,
in public and private workplaces, in restaurants and bars. Tobacco sponsorship
of sporting events decreased. Tighter controls were placed on selling cigarettes
to minors. Everyone didn't quit overnight, but overall rates of smoking began to
decreasefrom 42 percent of adults in 1965 to 23 percent in 2000, and from 36
percent of high school kids in 1997 to 29 percent in 2001. The number of adults
who have never smoked more than doubled from 1965 to 2000.
Big tobacco companies knew it was a war they couldn't win,
but they didn't give up without a fight. They threw billions and billions of
more dollars into making smoking look cool, hip, sexyand safe. They targeted
new markets, like women, who increased their rate of smoking 400 percent
after the surgeon general's report. Yeah, you've come a long way, babyall
the way from the kitchen to the cancer ward. They expanded their markets in the
Third World and undeveloped nations, getting hundreds of millions of people
hooked; it's estimated that more than four out of five current smokers are in
developing countries. As if people without a regular source of drinking water
didn't have enough to worry about already. Big Tobacco denied the health risks
of smoking, lied about what they were putting into cigarettes and lobbied like
hell against every government agency or legislative act aimed at curbing their
Which brings me back to those "frivolous" lawsuits. Back when
people were first suing the tobacco companies for giving them cancer, a lot of
folks scoffed. (And coughed. But they still scoffed.) Smokers knew the dangers
of smoking, everyone said. If they decided to keep smoking for thirty, forty
years and then got lung cancer, they couldn't blame the tobacco companies.
Then a funny thing happened. As the lawsuits progressed, it
became more and more apparent that smokers did not know all the dangers
of smoking. They couldn't know, because Big Tobacco was hiding the truth from
themlying to them about the health risks, and lying about the additives they
were putting in cigarettes to make them more addictive. Marketing cigarettes to
children, to get them hooked early and keep them puffing away almost literally
from the cradle to the early grave, among other nefarious dealings.
In the mid-1990s, shouldering the crushing burden of soaring
Medicare costs due to smoking-related illnesses, individual states began to
imitate those "ambulance-chasers," bringing their own class-action lawsuits
against Big Tobacco. In 1998, without ever explicitly admitting to any
wrongdoing, the big tobacco companies agreed to a massive $246 billion
settlement, to be paid to forty-fix states and five territories over twenty-five
years. (The other four states had already settled in individual cases.)
Two hundred and forty-six billion dollars is a whole lot of
What these lawsuits drove home was the relationship between
personal responsibility and corporate responsibility. Suddenly it was apparent
that sticking a cigarette in your mouth was not quite the same thing as
sticking those sneaker mints in your mouth. No one spent billions and billions
of dollars in marketing, advertising and promotions telling that guy those
sneaker mints would make him cool, hip and sexy. Big Tobacco did exactly that to
From Don't Eat This Book by Morgan Spurlock. Copyright Morgan Spurlock 2005. All rights reserved. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher, Putnam Publishing.
British Parliament asks Amazon to clarify why it pays $9 million in income tax on $23 billion of UK sales.(May 20 2013) Amazon will be called back to give further evidence to members of the British Parliament "to clarify how its activities in the U.K. justify its low corporate...