My father and my mother were both addicted to cigarettes, with my dad dying at age 59. My mother quit smoking in her early 40's, but now in her 80's she struggles with debilitating COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), continually tethered to a tank of oxygen and struggling to walk more than just a few feet.
There have been some successful lawsuits against tobacco companies, but they are just a drop in the bucket of the vast stores of money these immoral corporations accumulate. Americans don't smoke as much today as they did 50 years ago, so tobacco companies have addicted unsuspecting smokers in third world countries. Rather than go under as I had hoped because of the downturn in profits, these giant corporations with their vast stores of money simply diversified and purchased food companies, buying Nabisco and other companies with piles of money from their ill-gotten gains.
There is no good result from nicotine addiction. There are no health or societal benefits to smoking, outside of farmers who can sell a "cash crop" to alleviate their financial struggles. Yet, we have rewarded these companies and the people who own them. Alcohol, which can be destructive, can also have some health benefits. In centuries past, water was unsafe. Fermenting fruit juice saved lives. Not so with tobacco. Yet we do way too little to regulate this vile industry.
Every day I watch my mother struggle for a breath. She thought when she quit smoking in the 1970's that she could reverse the consequences of the noxious habit. I thought she could, too. But, even though she quit 40 years ago, it was too late.
Think of the billions of dollars the cigarette industry has caused in medical bills which they do not pay. Think of the cancers and heart diseases and lung diseases that their products have caused, for which they do not pay. Think of the suffering of the addicted tobacco users and their families, for which they do not pay. The companies get richer, while their victims sicken and die.
When a 12 or 13 year old begins smoking, he or she is not competent to commit to a life of cigarette-related suffering. We have to do more to make these evil companies pay for what they have done. So far, these businesses and their shareholders have profited from a product which causes death and horrible illness. They get rich, while the unsuspecting, immature smokers end up dying from their childish misadventure.
I grew up in a house filled with smoke and full ashtrays. Everyone I knew of my parents' generation smoked. Most have horribly suffered as a consequence. And the companies just get richer.