Pathbreaking Supreme Court Case: US Government Vs. Tobacco

The Obama Administration is pursuing a case against the Tobacco industry in the Supreme Court, a battle that began in the administration of Bill Clinton.

The government is seeking $300 billion from the tobacco companies as payment for a half century of deception on the dangers of smoking. The industry concealed evidence on the addictability of Nicotine and the health effects of smoking, which the government declared was the cause of bad health and deaths in the millions over the past half century.

The industry is complaining that their First Amendment rights are under attack, as they try to defend against government arguments. This tack is worrisome, as the Supreme Court last month declared that corporations were persons who had First Amendment rights including unlimited political campaign spending. One wonders if the Court will rule in favor of the tobacco companies, which would be a horrible message to send the nation.

Many different health groups are supporting the government’s lawsuit, with the hope that the tobacco industry will be required to pay for an education campaign to prevent people from deciding to smoke, and helping others quit smoking.

This is a case to watch, one of the most important in recent memory in the field of public health!

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