A class action lawsuit alleging fraud by the cigarette companies was thrown out by a federal appeals court. Recently, U.S. federal and supreme courts have made radically absurd judgments to protect large corporations from repaying the public for damages made, but this is NOT one of those absurd judgements. This lawsuit had no merit.
The lawsuit basically alleges that cigarette companies produced and sold cigarettes they called ‘light’ even though they conclusively knew that they were no safer than regular cigarettes. Smokers would compensate for the lost ‘lighter’ smoke by inhaling for longer breaths and buying more cigarettes. For this reason, the lawsuit alleges ‘fraud’.
No, that is not fraud. The cigarettes in fact did exactly what they were advertised to do, produce less smoke. When I started smoking, and someone gave me a light cigarette, I knew to put tape around the filter to close the holes that reduced the smoke intake and make it a ‘regular’. Even if you did not know that, you still had a cigarette that produced less smoke due to the holes in the filter (drew air to mix with smoke).
Some people argue that the law should apply what the ‘average person’ should know. And others argue that the stupidest of people should be protected. Either way, this case was justifyably thrown out.
To get away from the bias of ‘evil’ cigarette companies, we have a good parallel example: milk. Milk contains fat, of which in excess can cause horrible diseases and early death. Not only does ’2% milk’ not have 2% the fat of regular milk (it has over 50%) but we psychologically compensate for the lost taste and color (in coffee and chocolate milk) by adding more ‘light’ milk. When I use skim milk in my coffee, I keep going until it overflows – we all subconsciously go by color when we add milk to coffee, thus offsetting the fat reduction. Should the milk industry be liable for fraud?
Class action lawsuits are very important in our culture, helping to prevent high level crimes and reimbursement for being wronged. Business and press have been using this case to argue that class action lawsuits are too frequently used in our society, and they are completely wrong and just trying to protect large industry. This case was correctly thrown out because it failed on merit.