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The question Smoking ?


The tobacco industry was hit with a £3bn lawsuit this week, after an American jury decided Marlboro manufacturer Phillip Morris was responsible for a lifelong smoker's lung cancer. But who is really to blame? With 6,000 accidents each year caused by putting on trousers, will jeans soon come with a health warning ?

For many years I would have said that the smokers were to blame for their predicament.

However, as more and more evidence comes to light to show that the tobacco companies colluded in the development of more and more addictive strains of the tobacco plant, I would say that these companies deserve every lawsuit that lands on their doorstep.

Michael Woods, 35, consultant, Edinburgh Tobacco companies design their products to make money through sales as all companies do. It is unfortunate that their product is dangerous with a proven link to disease.

But they do not attempt to limit the harmful effect of their product. The product is being sold with the companies fully aware that the user will require more over time, which will eventually cause health problems, if not kill them. Under CDM legislation this is illegal. Imagine a bridge, designed and independently assessed as inherently dangerous, yet still constructed but with a little sign on it saying 'Danger: this bridge could seriously damage your health'. Would this remove the designers' responsibility under CDM? I don't think so!

Ken Fraser, 36, principal engineer, Aberdeen After much debate, our office has returned a clear majority that the risks associated with smoking are well publicised in this country and thus a personal responsibility.

However this is not the case in the developing world. We are now off to sue our office manager for the dangerous state of our furniture!

Tom Brunton, 39, QA team leader, Kent There has been so much publicity about the health risks of smoking over the past 20 or 30 years that anyone who becomes ill as a result of smoking only has themselves to blame. This is all part of the growing 'compensation culture' that is spreading to the UK from the USA.

Individuals should take more responsibility for their own actions and not always look for someone else to blame. In legal terms, ignorance is no excuse, perhaps it should be the same for life in general.

Rupert Whitmarsh, 50, associate, Hammersmith The tobacco industry should not be held to blame. As for trousers - that could cause a real flare-up!

Mark Woodrow, 24, development consultant, Herts.

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