The Crimes of Tobacco


Mario Dominguez

Document Type


Publication Date



My research was intended to grasp an understanding into the legal issues surrounding the relatively recent wave of tobacco litigation and to determine whether these issues were economically valid. The main issues brought up in court are the denial of the negative health consequences of tobacco, refusing to admit that tobacco is an addictive substance, targeting to minors, and the myth of ?light? cigarettes. After understanding the main issues brought in court, I then applied one of the most fundamental principles of economics that people are rational and make rational decisions, to the reasoning behind why the tobacco industry was at fault. Using the economic principle that individuals make rational decisions based on what they believe to be ?perfect information,? the arguments in court are valid. Forty years ago it was not public knowledge that smoking causes cancer, although the tobacco industries knew since the 1950s, and thus individuals made decisions to smoke based on what they thought to be correct information circulated by the tobacco industry that smoking did in fact not cause cancer. Furthermore, the most serious of the charges, targeting minors is also rationalized using economics. Children are incapable of making rational decisions and are protected by law from making irrational decisions. There everyone who is currently addicted to smoking as a result of smoking as a child can rightly blame the tobacco industry.


J. Whitney




Ford Research Fellowship

This document is currently not available here.