Archive for Wednesday, September 5, 2001

The wrong way to make it right

September 5, 2001

Jury selection begins today in Virginia for a class-action lawsuit aimed at forcing the tobacco industry to provide free medical tests for healthy smokers.

It is bewildering why individuals who knowingly indulge in an unhealthy habit are asking the manufacturers of that product to help finance their medical care.

Today it seems, more and more, personal accountability is taking a backseat to blame.

After all, some might question, why should smokers pay for their medical tests when the companies that manufacture tobacco products can do it for them?

Granted, it appears that tobacco companies ruthlessly build their ad campaigns with cartoon characters designed to attract the vulnerable teenage audience.

Granted, our government subsidizes the tobacco industry and the industry itself provides jobs and contributes to the economy.

Granted, nicotine is an addictive substance and once a person is hooked on cigarettes, it can be a difficult habit to stop.

But the bottom line is no one makes us smoke. We smoke because we want to. If we are unable to stop smoking, it is because the will to continue smoking is greater than the will to stop.

Taking the tobacco industry to court in this matter, in a common sense back-country way of thinking, would be akin to suing the sun for causing sunburns.

There's no limit to the number of things or conditions that could foreseeably lead to litigious action, as egregious as it may seem to be.

How about candy manufacturers for their tempting sweets that can lead to unwanted pounds, which in turn can lead to other health problems.

How about automobile manufacturers should they be sued because someone can get hurt when cars go too fast.

And then there's manufacturers of alcohol. Taken in moderation, like most things, alcohol, by some medical studies, isn't harmful and may be beneficial. But it, like almost anything else, can be abused.

The world is filled with temptations that each and every day take decisions whether to gamble, whether to drink, whether to drive safely, whether to follow a healthy diet, whether to live a good life.

As we stand in the threshold of this millennium we learn sometimes that personal accountability takes a backseat to blame. In lawsuits such as these that could erode more and more responsibilities that individuals used to shoulder on their own, we are saying: Coddle us, placate us, assure us that all will be well if we only can place blame for our mistakes on someone or something else.

And then last of all, we can rest assured that the world will be right if only we can prove that we have been wronged.

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