The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Cigarettes Kill for Corporate Profit

Aug 30, 2021

At the end of August, 93 million pages of documents in the trial of Big Tobacco versus the rest of humanity are to be destroyed, although the pages were first turned into digital form.

The tobacco industry brought at least 18 appeals against lawsuits to prevent being held liable for smoking deaths. The industry continued all its advertising until the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement. Yet the tobacco companies had scientific evidence from at least 1958 that smoking cigarettes killed smokers.

In the smoking lawsuit, brought by 46 states against four tobacco companies, the companies agreed to stop advertising and to pay billions annually to the states in reparations. A Mayo clinic doctor who testified during the trial said that cigarettes were “the most sophisticated drug delivery device that’s ever been invented to get nicotine to the brain within five heartbeats ... a product designed specially to do nothing more than to get [people] addicted and to kill them.”

Remember the Marlboro man? Or “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should”? Or for younger people, there’s the exciting rainbow of colors offered with e-cigarettes.

All of these are death delivery systems, for the profit of large corporate stockholders, like Altria, the former Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, or British American Tobacco. The profits have rolled in since the earliest North American settlers brought in the tobacco crop in the 1600s.

But every single person who smoked was made to feel guilty for their individual choice to smoke, despite oceans of money the companies spent on advertisements to entice them to start smoking at a young age. The companies even pretended their “light” versions of cigarettes were less addictive, less deadly than their older versions.

At least 20 million people have already died from smoking in the U.S., with 400,000 more people in the U.S. dying of lung cancer every year. The World Health Organization says more than a billion people still smoke around the world.

No one is free to choose in a society that designs all sorts of addictions so that a tiny number of people can get rich.