Discussion


Dear FRONTLINE,

I enjoyed the dialogue on the program. BUT.. I feel the real villain is the American people themselves.. We tend to approve of that which lines our pockets. We ask for personal freedom, yet accept no responsibility for our actions. Case in point, the tobacco industry: those of us who make our living, or are addicted to the product, tobacco, feel this is a bad stand for government to take (against the free use and distribution of the substance). Our culpability in this venture or addiction is unmistakable. We, through our desires, impact our society with the cost of our foolishness. We demand our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness be covered by the social umbrella of indigent health care. We become infermed and with a death rattle in our voices, call out for help from the public we have foisted our glutenus appetites over the general good. We are either for or against that which benifits humanity. How else can it be reasoned?

John Fenske
homer, ak


Dear FRONTLINE,

If the Tobacco Industry is guilty of racketering, and the willful misinformation of the people than the United States Gov't needs to be found guilty as an acomplice. They cetainly have the motive - the Almighty Dollar. The Gov't makes just as much if not more money off of each Tobacco purchase in this country than the Tobacco Industry itself; the Gov't is simply bringing down their partner in crime before anyone can see past the blinders of the Anti-Tobacco Industry provided by its 222 year old bedfellow. And the people of this degenerating society will eat it out of their hands because they don' t want to take the responsibility that goes hand in hand with their freedom to chose. We need to stop this habit of projecting the cause of individuals problems on others and start taking responsibilty for our own actions, no matter how naive!

Note to the Fast Food Industry:

Start developing defence for class-action lawsuits by aging, overweight, heart diseased, irresponsible 'Baby-Boomers' because Popular Culture used to think hamburgers were an everyday healthy part of one's diet.

Matthew Lopresti
toledo, oh


Dear FRONTLINE,

Some very interesting feedback you received concerning this evenings edition, but I myself have become completely outraged on this big kick to ban the use of tobacco products in the United States. I mean lets be honest, that is exactly what all the anti-smoking lobbyist's want to see happen. They have even openly admitted it.

It has become quite evident in recent years that the aim of the anti-smoking lobbyist is not to keep cigarettes out of the hands of minors, but rather to reap the benefits from jumping on the anti-smoking bandwagon. After all, a lot of money was made and favors exchanged, during the recent "tobacco deal" as your program pointed out.

How, may I ask, can making the tobacco industry pay for damages and liabilities caused from the use of thier products by persons who knew the inherent risks to their health in the first place, help keep tobacco products out of the hands of minors? If anyone can answer this question, I would be glad to listen.

It seems to me if the primary interest in this matter is to keep our kids from smoking, then it should be the parents themselves and business's that sell tobacco products who should be held liable and responsible, instead of an industry that is doing nothing more than following the practices of the freedom of free enterprise.

The theory that the tobacco industry was being an evil giant by not openly admitting the addictive nature of nicotine, in my opinion, holds little or no weight since long before this battle took place warnings were in fact being placed on tobacco labels regarding certain health risks, and both the American Cancer Association and Heart Society were advertising such health risks on national television.

So, it is in my opinion the only good that will come of this whole issue, is bad. It not only gives the anti-smoking lobbyist more of an opportunity to financially capitalize, but it gives the politicians an excuse to furthe tax the american tobaaco using public.

Oh yes, and one other thing. I am glad my children were not watching your program this evening, because you clearly pointed out that it was legally condoned to use illegal practices to try and achieve a desired result. What is this country coming too?

Tim Hanney
el cajon, ca


Dear FRONTLINE,

Your program on the tobacco deal was excellent. It clearly documents that it was lawyers rather than the public health community who very rapidly moved the tobacco debate forward to the point where now we may finally get a reasonably effective national tobacco policy to protect public health.

Lawyer rather than public health stood up to the tobacco cartel and lawyers are finally making it pay for all the disease and death, pain and suffering it has caused.

Your program will not be popular with Big Tobacco and its allies, surrogates and shills (the "smokers rights", "freedom of choice", "individual responsibility" people and groups, the retail and advertising industry, right-wingers and libertarians, Wall Street analysts, and the uninformed.)

Frontline should consider doing a program on the immoral financial connection between Wall Street and the tobacco companies. It's sickening to see the way Wall Street analysts are shilling for the tobacco companies and trying to give their misinformation PR campaign credibility. The tobacco industry represents the dark, sinister underbelly of American capitalism. The role of Wall Street analysts in the national tobacco legislative debate shows the ethical and moral corruption in our economic system.

The future of the tobacco makers? More lawsuits, more expensive settlements, more pay-offs to politicians, losses in court and damage payments, more lies and deception, more government regulations, indictments and jail for tobacco executives, more public condemnation, and the FDA banning nicotine in the next ten years.

Rick Kropp
santa rosa, ca


Dear FRONTLINE,

I was disturbed to note there was no mention of the tax-deductible status of any of the "tobacco settlements". As usual, it will be the taxpayers of the U.S. that pay a large portion of their bill. I don't want to fine the tobacco industry, I want to put it out of business. This is not about capitalism, but about defending ourselves against an industry that has been shown to lie and maliciously harm the American public.

Dave Wolf
corvallis, or


Dear FRONTLINE,

Here in Oregon, we have just re-passed a law that allows the individual to choose to end his life in a timely manner. Since I now have that right, I choose to commit a slower suicide. I am responsible for my own health, and if I am unable to care for myself, I will end my life at a faster pace. Meanwhile, I as a smoker now will have to pay the fines for the tobacco companies, plus the added tax, because we have suddenly decided that tobacco smoke is the new "evil drug" of the 90's

Stan Weagel


Dear FRONTLINE,

This is very damning evidence. I think what galls a lot of people is their blatant attitudes of defiance. The question of what society's obligation is to those who willingly do harmful things to themselves within the framework of the free society is a question for a deeper thinker than this humble speaker. The question then is: what's next? Alcohol? Fatty Foods?

John B.
harrisburg, pa.


Dear FRONTLINE,

The most serious issue in the tobacco controversy that has been largely left out of debate is the proper disposition of lawyers. Documents have revealed that the lawyers have had a direct hand in the conspiracy to deceive the public about the tobacco poison. Is there any reason why these lawyers have not been brought to justice and, if convicted, received the most severe punishment on the books for sending millions of Americans to their painful deaths?

Ben Jone
ny, ny


Dear FRONTLINE,

I applaud the Producers of Frontline for making this fascinating documentary on the Tobacco litagations.

We should keep in mind, the Tobacco cartels are reaching kids all around the world and not just our shores. They have to be held accountable for their misdeeds no matter were they do business.

And let us not forget that chewing tobacco and cigars are also targeted to young folks.

Also, just a little note to the Producers of Frontline - you stand out above the rest, with unbiased reporting and indepth coverage. You can't really say that about some other investigative programs such as 'Sixty Minutes', due to their close ties to tobacco money!

These are only my beliefs....

James Miller
new york, ny


Dear FRONTLINE,

It is my sincere belief that the tobacco bill that Senator McCain is proposing has no hope of reducing tobacco consumption by minors, but will only succeed in forcing millions of Americans out of jobs and create a black market in this nation for tobacco products. We have many issues that plague us today, and tobacco is not the greatest of these issues by a long shot. The metroplex in which I live is being barraged, not by tobacco caused problems, but by heroin, a hard core drug that has claimed numerous teenage lives in this area in the last few months. And the heroin problem is escalating. Should youth use tobacco products? No, they should not. But we already have a law on the books prohibiting the use of tobacco products by those who are under the age of 18. Senator McCain states that tobacco use by minors has increased exponentially and that this increase is the tobacco industries' fault. He is partly right. Tobacco use by minors has increased alarmingly, but it is not the tobacco industries' fault. It is the fault of those stores who continue to sell tobacco products to minors. There is a law in place that prohibits them from doing so. Why are we not trying more stringently to enforce the law that is already in place? I applaud all efforts to decrease the use of tobacco by minors, but will stand and shout at the top of my lungs against any legislation such as the one Senator McCain proposes that does nothing to stop the selling of tobacco products to minors. Everyone cries out that the tobacco companies have lied and sucked everyone in to using their product. i submit that America is a free country where people make their own choices. We are each accountable for what we do in our lives. If I choose to pick up a cigarette and smoke it, it is my conscious choice, a choice that I alone am responsible for making. It is the same as if I were to drink several beers and then get behind the wheel of a car. I am responsible for the action of drinking, for getting behind the wheel, and should an accident occur, then I am responsible for that as well. Whistleblowers, lawyers, judges, politicians, and all those who stand to gain any type of monetary compensation from the lawsuits as well as the legislation need to take a step back and think before they leap. Look at yourselves first and then try to pass judgement on someone else. Get the dollar signs out of your eyes and focus on the issue at hand. Tobacco is not your enemy, your own greed is.

Ellen Rowell
dallas, tx


Dear FRONTLINE,

The fact that no one is really interested in a deal that does anything less than put the industry out of business makes their future uncertain. I can't imagine how congress could pass legislation designed to crush the industry. The constitutionality of such a law seems shaky at best.

If the government wants to make this a child protection issue, which I firmly believe is a political ploy, then the government should consider punishing the liquor industry, particularly beer companies. Teen alcoholism is a major problem in this country, binge drinking on college campuses is rampant and beer ads appear in all types of television programs and magazines seen by children, particularly sports. How about banning the Budweiser lizards and frogs; they're even more popular than Joe Camel.

oak brook, il


Dear FRONTLINE,

Your actions amount legal extortion (higher taxes and more loss of personal fredome). The government controled Al Capone, who can we get to control you? Under the guise of protecting the children (a parent responsibility) and the terrible crime of trying to make a profit, people like you have vertually destroyed our personal fredome. If you want to talk about who lied, look first at the experts, the government. Will your next chriminals be the sugar industry, liquor industry, dairy industry, beef industry, pork industry, etc.?

Harry Norton
simpsonville, s. c.


Dear FRONTLINE,

Great show. I think for all the noble sentiment expressed by Mr. Scruggs, there may be some green monster lurking. Didn't guys like Scruggs literaly put the asbestos industry out of business? I loved it when he said he 'loaned' his boat, car and house to the whistle blower. What a guy!! In any case, I do think the deal negotiated with the states is a good one. So typical of congress to try and milk another 100 billion or so out of something if given the opportunity.

Mike Reardon
falmouth, ma


Dear FRONTLINE,

People should recognize that these manufactures also are major food companies . Be careful with broad sweeping comments, what is imposed on one company goes way beyond the chest pounding of anti-smoking advocates.

Craig Williams


Dear FRONTLINE,

the issue of expenses and attorneys fees continue to be the plague of the resolution of the political settlement. is this due to the worry of the republican investing the trial lawyers with more political funds or a ploy of the tobacco industry to scuttle the settlements?

mack barnhart
gainesville, texas


Dear FRONTLINE,

There sould be an independent counsel appointed to investigate members of government who accepted stolen property, which was known to be privileged client attorney documents and then subsequently releaseing them.

This is clearly illegal and is no better then any actions taken by the tobacco industry.

In addition, I am disappointed that frontline failed to present a truely balanced report. The entire basis which the initial action was taken on, that the taxpayer bears the cost of smoking related illness, is fatality flawed by the fact that the state and federal taxes paid by smokers is not included in the calculation. Further, cost savings achieved in reduced social security payments, federal pensions, reduced nursing home and other old age costs, not incurred by the "premature" death of smokers in not included in the calculation. This should have been addressed in the report.

new york, new york

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