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Can I sue the government because I still smoke?

November 20, 2010

I am a smoker.  I have been smoking for a long time, since I was a teenager.  Ever since I can remember, there has been a Surgeon General’s Warning Label on the packs of cigarettes I purchased.  There has also been a direct state tax on cigarettes, as well as a federal excise tax on tobacco manufacturer’s which necessarily gets passed onto me.  My question is, can I sue the government because I still smoke?

The government’s stance on smoking is perfectly clear, “it is bad and you shouldn’t do it.”  But doesn’t the fact that they tax this behavior imply they are making money off my suicidal addiction?  Is this not a conflict of interest?  Can I not suggest they are complicit in my early death, because by taxing something that they themselves agree is unhealthy, aren’t they in some ways implying consent of the activity?

They have just released newer and more aggressive Surgeon General Warning labels.  Is this not an admission that the old labels were ineffective?  If the manufacturers of cigarettes are required by law to have these labels on their merchandise, don’t I have a claim against the government for not informing me properly of the dangers of smoking?  If not, what is the purpose of the labels?  Are they just there for fluff?

The FDA has just rolled out new regulations on cigarettes, which include banning deceptive labeling like “light” and “low-tar”.  Since they have not banned this practice in the past, is not the FDA complicit in the trickery?

The states have successfully sued the tobacco industry on our behalf for “tricking” us on the dangerous effects of smoking, and presumably were to use that money for more aggressive anti-smoking marketing and teaching of the ills of smoking.  I still smoke, is this not a fact the programs are failing?

This, of course is all hypothetical, and I would never sue anyone for something I have known was always bad for me.  But it ties in with the victim mentality of our culture.  Don’t my aforementioned questions at least have some veracity to them?  If I chose to be, I could label myself as a victim of an ineffectual government program trying to wean me off the destructive habit of smoking while they also make money of that activity.

On the same note, any alcoholic in Virginia could also claim to be a victim of a state-run liquor and beer licensing business.  If the government of Virginia is the only entity licensed to sell me liquor, aren’t they fully responsible for the outcome of me drinking it?  If a bar owner is responsible for his patron’s decision to drive drunk, I don’t think that last question is that far of a mental leap.

When we eventually legalize marijuana nationwide, can we then sue the government if we get addicted to more dangerous drugs like cocaine and heroine (you can show evidence it ain’t a gateway drug, and I can show evidence to the contrary – both sides are immaterial in a lawsuit)?

Again, these are all hypotheticals, but I wanted to point out how the government’s overarching plan to remove responsiblity from the individual leads to a dangerous case of anyone claiming to be a victim, against the people doing the regulating.  I didn’t even get to legal pharmaceuticals the government has to approve for sale – how come they aren’t culpable when a drug turns out to have a deleterious side-effect?

The government sucks at regulation.  The less they regulate the better, because regulation is designed for one purpose only, the transferral of responsibility.  Unfortunately, that responsibility never seems to get passed onto the organization most responsible for bad outcomes, the government itself.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. JustFacts permalink
    November 20, 2010 5:59 pm

    Good post. This has been my argument all along. Even worse, the Federal government has subsidized the tobacco farmers for years.

    “Tobacco Subsidies in the United States totaled $944 million from 1995-2009”

    This was paid to about 350,000 recipients (read farmers). They paid almost $203 million in 2009.

    Add to that the “tobacco allotments” that are paid to farmers to give price support to the crop.

    “Tobacco allotments can only be explained within the context of other terms. The US Department of Agriculture administers a price support program that controls the amount of tobacco grown each year in the US. There is a total quota of pounds of tobacco to be grown based on expected demand. This total is divided among property owners into their individual quota, which is called a tobacco allotment. This allotment is actually a license to sell certain poundage of tobacco. Historically this is what a tobacco allotment was used for.”

    But, then they turn around amd cry “woa-is-me” smoking is so terrible. We need to tax people more to make it unattractive to smoke. We need to ban smoking in public places. If it is such a bad thing, why don’t they ban it, and make it illegal to grow? Guess what, it is a money crop for the government. They get all of the taxes. They will never ban it.

    I have never smoked in my life, and never intend to. But, it is a personal choice, and the government should get out of the business.

    • November 20, 2010 6:07 pm

      Ahh, your points really make my argument, I didn’t research enough, lmao. Thanks for the help. =)

  2. November 20, 2010 6:50 pm

    The two faces of government. They want people to smoke. If that tax revenue dried up states would be much worse off than they are now. Even as they require warning labels they are complicit in promoting a dangerous addiction.

    For the record, I smoke myself, but I’m trying to quit. Not because of anything the government has done, but for my own reasons. It’s called personal responsibility, something the nanny state is trying to do away with.

    • November 20, 2010 8:57 pm

      Yep. =)

  3. November 20, 2010 9:42 pm

    You touched on the drug companies and there is something that I have been wondering about for the longest time: if the government approves a drug for usage and then later on that drug is found to cause other damage, how is it that the drug company can be sued when the government said the drug was safe? That has always bothered be.

    On the smoking issue, we all know that the govenment does not really want people to quit smoking because they would lose revenue. They are making money off of people’s addictions, so yes, they are guilty of profiteering on dangerous behavior–this makes them as guilty as the tobacco companies.

    • November 20, 2010 10:10 pm

      Sweet! Now where did I put Howard Dean’s number?

      • November 21, 2010 8:34 am

        It has to be around here somewhere!

  4. JustFacts permalink
    November 20, 2010 9:47 pm

    I need to sue somebody.

    Florida jury awards $80M to daughter in anti-smoking case from the Orlando Sentinel, Nov. 16, 2010.

    “Dianne Webb claimed her father’s 1996 death was caused by a 60-year smoking addiction fed by company manipulation and deception. The Levy County jury award Tuesday includes $8 million in compensatory damages and $72 million in punitive damages.”

    My father quit smoking, cold-turkey, in 1964, after smoking for over 50 yrs. At the time, he was smoking 3+ packs a day of Lucky Strikes. His doctor told him he was in pretty good health but he couldn’t guarantee he would stay that way. Anyway, whatever he said scared the hell out of Dad, and he never smoked again. He lived another 20 years, and finally died of throat cancer in 1984. Sounds like I could get me a cool $80 million based on this precedent. I’m taking offers from all lawyers. Maybe I need to run an add on TV seeking representation. What do y’all think?

    • November 20, 2010 10:12 pm

      3 Packs of Lucky’s a day! Jeez, I am practically a non-smoker compared to him.

      We should talk to Howard Dean, he loves him some lawsuits.

  5. bunkerville permalink
    November 21, 2010 9:39 am

    What is stunning, is that Alcohol kills thousands in traffic accidents each year, and untold pain and suffering. We tried this prohibition and discovered our folly…. yet we march on. Good post with great comments.

    • November 21, 2010 10:28 am

      Thank you. =)

  6. November 21, 2010 3:58 pm

    Hmm, good question, but it would be like saying that if a person ate blocks of cheese all day, every day for ten years and developed heart disease, the cheese manufactures and farmers would be responsible for the poor choices made by the person gorging themselves eating cheese.

    I also think that adding caffeine to soda, alcohol, and nicotine to cigarettes should have never been permitted.

    We do have choices, and what we do with them has consequences.

    • November 21, 2010 4:32 pm

      Yeah, your final sentence was the point of my post. Not saying I made that point very clear, but it was the point.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. =)

  7. November 21, 2010 8:03 pm

    I read all the comments posted, and I strongly agree about the government is profiting from the sales of tobacco. I’m glad that they are creating stronger campaigns against the sell of cigarettes. With all the law suits, the health related issues, death, etc…

    I’m sure that the govt. is realizing that the once major profit from the legal sale of addicting drugs is not as profitable as it once was. When people start suing, and speaking up, as the many users here on Fleece me, it brings about change. With every voice raised, change is made, even if it doesn’t seem like it helps. We all help in this very long process.

    Btw, I’ve been a smoker since the age of fifteen, and I wish they would make an announcement saying: We are no longer able to sell cigarettes in the United States. Maybe then, I could quit.

    I’ll keep trying, and in the mean time, will help post my ideas/opinions on blogs such as this, in hopes some teenager is out there wanting to check out the pros/cons of picking up that first cigarette.

    Kids, Teens, Trust us: The cigarette will control your life, just like your parents or (how you think your parents control your life). Being diagnosed with cancer isn’t very cool, but telling your friends, “Hey that stuff stinks, and it’s not for me,” that’s cool.

    Thanks for posting this blog and allowing us to share our opinions/ideas.

    New Year’s Resolution: To quit smoking!
    I hope.

    • November 21, 2010 8:44 pm

      Thanks for the excellent comment. =) I am so thankful that none of my kids have followed my bad example with smoking, hopefully they never will.

      Good luck on your resolution. =)

  8. JustFacts permalink
    November 21, 2010 10:06 pm

    Not trying to preach to you, but if my dad could put them down cold-turkey after smoking for over 50 yrs, anyone can. He did say, later on, that he often craved them, but he never picked one up again. We have posted about being examples for our kids, and making sure they are educated. All of you smokers need to take it to heart, for your good, and for your families. I will always stand for your free choice to smoke, if you choose. That doesn’t mean that I think it is a good idea.

    I think it is everyone’s decision whether to wear a helmet when you ride a motorcycle, but, even living in Florida where I don’t have to wear one, I will always wear one anyway. It is my choice, and I choose to wear it. That’s the neat thing about free choice – when no one forces you to do something, one way or the other, it is always easier to make the right choice for you.

    I’ll climb down off my soapbox. “We now return control of your television set back to you.”

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