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Tobacco industry litigation position on addiction: continued dependence on past views


This paper reviews the tobacco industry’s litigation strategy for addressing the addiction issue through trial testimony by its experts, and opening and closing statements by its lawyers. Despite the fact that several companies now claim to accept, in varying degrees, the conclusions of the Surgeon General concerning tobacco addiction, the tobacco industry litigation strategy pertaining to addiction is essentially unchanged since that of the early 1980s when the issue emerged as crucial. The industry uses its experts and the process of cross-examination of plaintiff’s experts to imply that the addictiveness of tobacco and nicotine are more comparable to substances such as caffeine, chocolate, and even milk, than to heroin, cocaine and alcohol. Furthermore, the tobacco industry contends that the definition of addiction has now become so broadened as to include carrots and caffeine and hence that any concurrence that smoking is addictive, does not imply that cigarettes are addictive to the standards that drugs such as heroin and cocaine are addictive. Finally, the industry has continuously asserted that tobacco users assumed the risks of tobacco since they understood that quitting could be difficult when they began to use, and moreover, that the main barrier to cessation is lack of desire or motivation to quit and not physical addiction. These positions have been maintained through the 2004–2005 US Government litigation that was ongoing as the time of this writing.

  • DATTA, Tobacco Deposition and Trial Testimony Archive
  • FDA, Food and Drug Administration
  • FTC, Federal Trade Commission
  • ISO, International Standards Organization
  • WHO, World Health Organization
  • addiction
  • litigation
  • testimony

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