They Were Shocked ~ SHOCKED, Mind You

…the plaintiff’s lawyers were. Had to be a cold, wet, used nicotine patch in the face.

Tobacco verdict only $11K
Jury rules deceased smoker 95% to blame for his death

Imagine that. A 66 year old smoker mostly responsible for his own death.

The only thing more shocking would have been if they’d found him comPLETELY responsible for his own decisions, since no one tied that nasty thing to his fingers and glued it to his lips.

But I’ll be happy with this little slice of shocking sanity in a greedy, greedy world.


24 Responses to “They Were Shocked ~ SHOCKED, Mind You”

  1. JeffS says:

    These days, one must take what one can get.

  2. Ave says:

    Bad news for people who would sue junk food manufacturing companies for causing their heart disease and Type II diabetes.

  3. Ebola says:

    Scientific evidence for cancer being caused by cigarettes didn’t occur until after 1965 in so far as it’s general availability to the public. Considering that means he was born in 45 and nearly everybody smoked. A real campaign against it didn’t start until the eighties. That means old boy could damn well have been smoking for twenty years before anything truly damning came about. That’s a twenty years habit and addiction. I’m not saying he should get money, but saying he’s a dumbass is overboard. That’s like blaming people for having asbestos in their homes. “Well, you bought it!” ::snort::

  4. aelfheld says:

    Actually, it was German doctors and scientists scientists in the late 1930’s who identified the link between smoking and lung cancer. ‘Nazi science’ didn’t have a particularly good reputation (wonder why?), so it was a decade or so before the link was acknowledged by American and British scientists.

    Thing is, you can go back more than a century to find warnings about the hazards of smoking. Sulcer may not have had access to the most up-to-date research, but there is no way he didn’t know that smoking posed some level of risk.

  5. major dad says:

    All you had to do was look at the filter and figure out that just maybe this might be harmful not to mention the residue left on fingers, walls, etc. People just didn’t want to believe it was bad for you.

  6. mojo says:


    Your health is YOUR lookout, not mine.

  7. Ebola says:

    Aelfheld, please note the statement “general availability to the public.” That German study was not widely available, much less compared to a surgeon generals warning on the side.

    Pop people didn’t believe that it was bad for you still more so due to filters. Remember, the whole point to a filter is to get rid of the bad shit and leave you inhaling the good shit. Whether it be a HEPA filter or a cigarette filter back in the day. Until government action on this no one gave it a second thought.

  8. aelfheld says:

    Ebola, the German findings were the basis for the anti-smoking laws in Germany in the 1940’s. The information was publicly available. That it was not widely heeded has more to do with human nature than any lack of information.

    As for the efficacy of the Surgeon General’s warning, please note that smoking rates had already started declining prior to 1965.

    Responsibility for your own actions is a prerequisite to freedom. Denying that responsibility is a public declaration that you are unfit to manage your own affairs. Sulcer was neither forced nor coerced to start smoking nor continue to do so.

  9. Gunslinger says:

    Eight years ago my smoker’s hack was all I needed to tell me to give it up.

  10. Ebola says:


    A) Keep in mind that people didn’t have the internet or ease of access to anything outside the library.

    B) You’re quoting a paper on the smoking rates of college graduates vs. non-college…I’ll check again after I post this, but I don’t recall the article even mentioning his graduate level.

    C) Via your own cited source, “By 1970, when information was widespread and clear public warnings were mandatory, the smoking rate among college graduates had declined to 37%, while 44% of high school graduates smoked.” Interesting, 44% of HS graduates….and the quoted top out rate on bullet one 45% IN THE 50s.

    D) I reiterate the given timeline: 1963 would put him at 18. Reanalyze the data set you’ve given me. I’m sure there’s a chance of better national statistics to support your argument, but this source ain’t it.

    Again, comes right back to general knowledge and access to information. Which your own source sort of craps on; given the time period we’re discussing for him establishing a habit.

    As for responsibility: After multiple “scientific link” stories between cell phone use (something I’ll list as pleasurable, due to the fact they actually have addiction clinics for it) and certain cancers. Are you going to stop using your cell phone before the gov’t jumps on the bandwagon? Just curious, due to the timeline we’re running back to. Note that NCI linked cell phone use as far back as 1994. That’s seventeen years ago. Have fun arguing that. 😛

  11. Larry says:

    As a former smoker, I approve of this message.

  12. Yojimbo says:

    Oh for heaven’s sake, you’re talking about my generation and I’m telling you we all knew. You don’t need data sets and timelines. People did have access to things other than libraries, they were called doctors. Doctors were available, friendly and cheap, and most people used them. They noticed that most of their lung cancer patients were smokers, and they told their other patients. And back in the day we had neighborhoods, people were very friendly. Everyone talked to everyone about everything.

    Every kid heard two things. “It’s too late for me but don’t you dare start.” and “SMOKING IS BAD FOR YOU.”
    If I had a dollar for every time I heard those I could’ve retired before my first paper route.

  13. Laura says:

    I want to sue God for making me so damn gorgeous. It’s a curse I tell you. A curse!

  14. tree hugging sister says:

    I hate you because you’re beautiful, Laura. I’m suing you both. So there.

    Now, as far as a 66 year old man being aware of the dangers of smoking. While I applaud with my whole heart my sweet son’s copious research (freakin’ awesome job and I will use much of it, child), the FACT of the matter is ~ from one who was there at the time (like our friend Yojimbo) ~ I was HIDING YOUR grandfather’s cigarettes in 1968. He had packs, like every father of my peer group, scattered hither and yon for easy access, so much were they a part of life. They were in his flight bag, on his bedstand, in the kitchen and then wherever they kept the carton. Your Uncle Mountain Man and I would do clean sweeps of all the places and watch him go ballistic heading out for a flight because we’d shitcanned them. (First time, “Thank you for caring, but I’m the adult here, blahblahblah”. Second time on, duck and run.) He’d steal your grandmother’s to get through the drive to the airport, with a scheduled stop at the gas station for another $4.45 carton on the way. This fellow is only 10 years older than me.

    He knew full well. And had PLENTY of time to set it down and never, ever take it up again, vaunted research aside.

    On a lighter note, this came at the expense of the You-Know-Who’s Firm, the pioneers of eating tobacco companies to death bite by billion dollar bite and Joe ScrewYourBorough’s former home-for-a-short-while-post-Congress. I KNOW they had the champagne on ice already. Cracked me right up.

  15. aelfheld says:

    Ebola, it may surprise you, but information did get around before the intarwebs. Not as quickly perhaps, but it did get around. Cigarettes were known as ‘coffin nails’ long before the Surgeon General’s report.

    I included the link for the graph showing a decline in smoking for all groups starting in the 1950’s. That the rates for those with bachelor’s degrees started earlier doesn’t change the overall trend. Sulcer’s level of education is irrelevant. Any discrepancies between the graphical representation and the accompanying text are something you can take up with the authors.

    As for the rest of your ‘argument’, I can only note you do nothing more than search for a way to exonerate Sulcer (and by extension, everyone else) from any responsibility for his actions.

  16. Ebola says:

    Dearest Madre, 1968 is some puts our subject at 24 years of age, more than enough time to have an established habit. Also, your father is of age with our subject and notice your own wording, “He had packs, like every father of my peer group…” Especially considering Ael’s source quoting the max being almost 50% in the 50s (I’m calling bullshit, btw). We’ve both watched the Grinch fight with his addiction to that shit. You’ve watched me smoke. While I had formed a social habit, Grinch is definitely a different beast. My argument is there was ample time for him (Sulcer) to be hooked young. Not many 18-20something year old beings are very responsible and there damn well wasn’t a good government move during the time period. Hell advertising limitations didn’t happen till the seventies (putting Sulcer at 25). An established habit, much less addiction, is both chemically and psychologically proven time and again to result on my end of the argument. It’s a bitch to break and easier to engage at a younger age due simply to reckless behavior.


    Ael, that is damn well the point of playing Devil’s Advocate. You haven’t answered my cell phone query. Still using yours? How about cordless? How reprehensible! Smart people have said it was bad (possibly!) for years!

    With mild research I wager I can discover a number of things that you consider ‘essential’ or ‘pleasurable’ that will result in higher risk to you and yours on any number of health matters. Life is one shitty game of picking the best possible way of getting screwed. Unless yer blessed with amazing genetics. In which case…you’ll probably be hit by a truck.

    PS: Another thing I noticed last night yet forgot to mention, the source repeatedly says “calculations by authors.” Who specifically are they? College trends? Just genuinely wondering.

  17. tree hugging sister says:

    your father is of age with our subject

    Ah, NO, young Jedi. Your grandfather is 80. A FULL generation and a half removed from said subject.

    Regardless of your epic research, sweet thing, and the vagaries of human frailties not withstanding ~ said subject was fully aware of the ee-villes of tobacco at a tender enough age and responsible for decisions thereafter.

    Regardless of the amount of willpower in his frame, at no time was he ever the pawn of the tobacco companies.

  18. Ebola says:

    I meant to remove that, actually. Lol. As for the “subject was fully aware”: I’m calling bullshit. There is no evidence as to his understanding of the hazard, which was my very point with the cell phone commentary.

    As for not a pawn: I’m calling bullshit. Find me a single study that doesn’t lend to sociopolitical advertising and natural peer pressure on the individual resulting in adverse effect. Especially the young. Saying that someone has a choice does not entail that surrounding factors will provide detailed and intrinsic accuracy. Thus leading to faulty judgment and group think. Let us face the facts…the cool kids were doing it.

    All due respect, your statement was a gross assumption based on personal medium. By the logic that the subject was fully aware of the danger it is illogical that he would choose to smoke without mitigating factors. By said logic, you are implying that our smoker legitimately stepped out of his way to harm himself. I find that concept fundamentally flawed. Thus the very basis and core of our issue.

  19. tree hugging sister says:

    Someone ought to smack you.

    I find that concept fundamentally flawed.
    You’re right. He could well have been the one person in the country with his head in a bucket. Which probably also explains why they only found him 95% responsible.

    We are at an impasse and I cede the floor. ‘Night!!

  20. Yojimbo says:

    I’m sorry, but that is my generation and I’m telling you that kids were aware of the dangers of smoking when he started smoking. I was there, in that timeframe and, darn it, they were aware.

    People do all sorts of stupid things against their better judgment. They drink and drive, they text and drive, they eat and drive. Kids also rebel against their parents who were universally telling kids that smoking was very bad for them.

  21. JeffS says:

    Ebola, two things. First, recognize that you’re in a hole. The second thing is, stop digging.

    You were wrong in your original statement, and got called on it. Now you are rationalizing your original assumptions, and spinning your position in damage control. To wit:

    Everyone here who was self-aware prior to 1968 is hooting at the original claim because we all know it’s pure, unadulterated bullshit.

    First, the concept that cigarettes were unhealthy was not invented by the government. Instead, in a burst of nanny statism, lead by the do gooders in Congress, the Federal Government decided to regulate the tobacco industry based on a lot of research that was conducted because it was common knowledge that cigarettes were unhealthy. It just wasn’t admitted by the tobacco companies, who would lose heavily if they did. There’s also some evidence that they ramped up the nicotine levels in cigarettes to make them even more addictive. In other words, the tobacco companies put themselves ahead of the customers.

    But the original hypothesis wasn’t original. Everyone “knew” it, but it took the courts and Congress to force the companies to accept it.

    We — every day people — knew it because we didn’t need an omnipotent media and benevolent government to tell us that it was so. The INTERNET, a marvelous invention, is not the sole repository of wisdom and knowledge. We could see it happening with the people around us. See it, analyze it, and draw our (admittedly informal) conclusions.

    In other words, we used our brains. It didn’t frighten us, as it does many people today.

    As a young boy, I watched my father, a 4 pack a day smoker since WWII, hack his lungs out. Ditto my uncle. Ditto many of my neighbors. My childhood friends watched the same thing, ad nausem. YOUR PARENTS saw the same thing. Everyone here — save the younglings — saw it.

    See, smoking was socially acceptable back then; watch the old movies, and compare them with the new ones. Check out the old advertising (“Come to where the flavor is! Come to Marlboro Country!”). Restaurants often had ash trays at the tables; an after dinner smoke was the norm back then.

    So we could SEE it. We had a HUGE population to sample. Early and often. People could and did draw their conclusions about the consequences of smoking. And did. The Surgeon General in 1968 was simply but officially stating what everyone knew: Tobacco is a habit with potentially fatal consequences.

    That’s my first point. The second is…..

    Yup, the cool kids did it. Yup, there was peer pressure. Yup, advertising pushed kids to smoke. No question about it.

    But so what? Who FORCED them to smoke? Did someone put a pistol to their head, and say “Smoke or die, fool!”?

    Nope. They made a choice. A decision. A bad one, but still their choice. A lot of my peers did, as I was growing up.

    These are people who should be making their own decisions, and then living with the consequences.

    Instead, in an unrelated but parallel development throughout the education system, people were being taught about “victims”. It was an excuse to blame The Man for their problems.

    You’re a wife beater? Blame your parents! You’re a drug user? Blame society! You’re a drunk? Blame Jim Beam! You were shot during a robbery? Blame Smith & Wesson! You were arrested for armed robbery? Blame The Man! You weren’t promoted? Blame the [insert adjective here] boss for being a [insert stereotype noun here]!

    This “victim” mentality has permeated our society like a cancer. Do you have an iron to keep your uniforms spiffy? I’ll bet there was a label on it, to the effect of “Do not iron clothes while wearing them”. If not, that’s one brave manufacturer. Or a cheap one.

    I know, because some idiot tried to iron his shirt while wearing it, burned himself, and blamed the manufacturer for that. I’ve seen those labels. An idiot didn’t use his brains to assess the situation correctly, made a stupid decision, and then expected someone else to pay the bill.

    Mr. 95% Responsible is one of those idiots. He had the information, from an early age. He just made the decision, for whatever reason, to keep on smoking. And now his wife expects to be paid off for his bad judgment.

    I think not. And that’s the other reason why we’re hooting.

    Mr. and Mrs. 95% Responsible? That’s the victim mentality at work. “It’s not my fault! Blame the tobacco company! Compensate me!”

    Mr. 95% Responsible knew. Your statement of “There is no evidence as to his understanding of the hazard” is pure nonsense. The anti-smoking campaign has been INTENSE for years. You do not have any referent for the earlier era. You do not know.

    This is not something that I can provide solid metrics for. I can only point out that smoking was pervasive in this country at one time, as noted earlier. There are a lot of essays about that, such as those showing how advertising has changed over the years. Or the movies, where smoking as casual. Now? Smoking is practically taboo in Hollywood.

    So, yeah, Mr. 95% Responsible knew. He lived in that same period. And decided to smoke anyway. I’ve known many people like him.

    And if he didn’t know? So what? The tobacco tried to warn people, as they were required to. Check out a pack of smokes sometime. See that warning from the Surgeon General? That’s been on cigarette packages since forever. Unless he didn’t know how to read, he saw it every time he lit up.

    So that $11K? That’s PERFECT. Not too much, not too little. Just enough for Mrs. 95% Responsible to pay her bills and move on.

    And maybe send a message to folks out there: “You’re adults. Act like it. Accept responsibility for your actions.”

    I don’t hold a lot of hope out for that. Not these days.

  22. major dad says:

    Could you rephrase that Jeff?

  23. Ebola says:

    Jeff, love ya to death but:

    A) Do please tell me where I said the gov’t was the first to say there was an issue with cigarettes. My only hypothesis on that level was that until the government starts making motions, there is rarely an impasse where health risks are concerned.

    B) I hate the “who forced them” statements. The argument has not once been “who forced them”. Read my initial statement, the entire core of this argument comes to young cultural osmosis. I’m not rationalizing shit. He made a mistake, that is blatantly clear. But saying there was no corroborating evidence in so far as culture, information and other details are concerned? Spare me. I extend the cell phone argument to you. Have you stopped using your cell phone or UHF related electronics? Let’s extend the bubble, shall we? What exactly is your direct argument with Global Warming? Tell ya what, weather is my job now. Still disagree with global warming, but for different reasons than I ever had before.

    You’re telling me, essentially, that outside influences directly and indirectly targeted at enforcing smoking rates for those in his age group aren’t in any way responsible? Bullshit. You’re telling me that a bystander providing a catalyst for someone else’s harm is in no way responsible for said harm? Bullshit. If so you might as well toss half the fucking Justice system out the damn window. “Hey, fuck it, she got raped because she was wearing a whore uniform. Her friends said she’d be an easy lay, just get her drunk. Her fault. Not the friends. Not the aggressors.” (Sorry, had to put up with a bunch of sexual assault classes today, but it makes my point.)

    I find laying the entire thing at his feet when he started smoking AT THIRTEEN YEARS OF AGE to be fucking ridiculous. At 13 what massive responsibilities were you entrusted with? Were you trusted to cloth and feed yourself? Were you trusted to understand the unique dangers presented by the world? Where you expected to read medical documents to make sure your peers and/or parents weren’t feeding you a bullshit line?

    Maybe that’s where the disconnect in this argument is. He was thirteen. When have you EVER met a child that wasn’t affected by group think, advertisements and “what the cool kids are doing”? If he had gotten addicted to heroin, coke or something else at that age it’d be a poor tragedy and a shame. It’s still a fucking addiction. Period. How exactly do you think he got hooked at thirteen?

    Try again.

  24. Ebola says:

    Sorry, pissed. Anyhow, agree on the settlement. They should be paying out the death costs for situations like this one. Though more than that is utterly idiotic to me. Like a lawsuit for burning your mouth on hot coffee.

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