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$23 billion dollar smoking damages award is absurd

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The R J Reynolds Company, the second largest cigarette company in the US, has been handed a $23.6 billion dollar settlement order by a Florida jury. The settlement was on behalf of the smoking husband of Pensacola wife Cynthia Robinson.

We aren't fans of smoking. Indeed, we've wondered off and on through the years whether it's, yes, we mean this, a sinful behavior. Seeing as it does significant damage to your body and that virtually everybody knows it, it's easy to imagine that the practice is ill advised, to say the least.

Yes, we know of the addictive qualities in cigarettes. We know as well that addictions are tough to overcome. Charity alone suggests that we ought to be considerate of anyone dealing with real addictions, as smoking almost certainly is. Still, as they tend to based on chosen behaviors and as the surest way to break them seems to be willpower, we don't want to let the individual entirely off the hook about addictions either.

The bottom line is that Michael Johnson Sr., her husband, was engaging in a legal behavior which he was not forced to do. He chose to smoke; cigarettes weren't lit and nicotine forced into his lungs. As sad as it may be, he did it to himself. It's hard to blame R J Reynolds, a company doing business legally selling a legal product, for his death.

We really don't mean that to sound so harsh. But we don't know what else to say. Unless and until smoking is made illegal, it's the smoker who actually has responsibility for his smoking and the damage which the practice does to him. When all is said and done, awarding $23.6 billion dollars the family of a smoker, for his essentially killing himself, seems absurd.

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