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Big Tobacco Lawsuit | R.J. Reynolds To Pay $23.6 Billion

By Matt McConnell

Monday July 21, 2014
RJ Reynolds has been ordered to pay a smoking victim's family 23.6 billion in a Big Tobacco lawsuit

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” so began the Dickens classic, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ and so ended the week of tobacco giant, R.J. Reynolds. It was indeed a week of of highs and lows for Reynolds and it is safe to say that they had no idea what was coming.

The week began full of promise for Reynolds American. On Tuesday, the company announced that they had completed a $24.7 billion dollar transaction to finalize the purchase of Lorillard. Reynolds felt that merging the key interests of the two major tobacco companies would put them in an ideal position to compete with Altria. In the immediate aftermath of the merger, Reynolds was anticipating revenues of $11 billion annually.

Reynolds immediately unveiled a streamlined vision for the future, a future that surprisingly did not include the wildly successful Blu Cigs. The company is so confident in the future of the Vuse electronic cigarette that they decided that they were not interested in Blu E-cig.

The moment of triumph and confidence was to be very short lived.  This weekend came the announcement of a Big Tobacco lawsuit that saw the jury award the plaintiff $23.6 billion dollars in punitive damages against R.J. Reynolds.

Robinson VS Reynolds American

Pictured above, Cynthia Robinson is surrounded by family and her legal team. The story began in 1996. Cynthia Robinson claimed that smoking killed her husband, Michael. Michael Johnson lost his life to lung cancer at the age of 36 leaving a widow and young son. Mr. Johnson began smoking at the age of 13. The lawsuit claimed that RJ Reynolds was negligent in informing Mr. Johnson of the risks of smoking cigarettes.

Cynthia Robinson’s case was originally a part of a larger class action lawsuit where a jury had awarded $145 billion in damages, but that the Florida Supreme Court overturned that decision in 2006.

While the reversal of the jury decision seemed like a victory for Reynolds, that same Florida Supreme Court ruling did leave open the possibility of individuals suing tobacco companies for damages. Cynthia Robinson filed suit in 2008.

That suit came to trial in June. After four weeks the case was handed over to the jury. Five of the six jurors were aged 45 or younger. The jury was shown how Reynolds presented tobacco products to the public prior to the widespread public awareness campaigns of the 90s. After 15 hours of deliberation they had arrived at a verdict.

The jury awarded $16 million in compensatory damages. The award for punitive damages was $23.6 billion.

Robinson’s attorney, Christopher Chestnut, called the jury’s decision, “courageous.”

Robinson’s attorney, Christopher Chestnut, called the jury’s decision, “courageous.” Reynolds’s attorneys had a decidedly different view of the jury’s decision saying that the award “goes far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness.”

J. Jeffery Raborn, vice president and assistant general counsel for R.J. Reynolds, said, “The damages awarded in this case are grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law.” Raborn is confident that the court will not allow the jury’s verdict to stand. Post-trail motions are expected to be filed immediately as Reynolds will no doubt be fighting this verdict.

Big Tobacco’s Infamous History

rj reynolds ordered to pay $23.6 billion in damagesBig Tobacco certainly has a dark history of employing whatever methods necessary to hook generations of people on cigarettes. Going back to the earliest days of the movies, they would pay actors to use and endorse cigarettes. The strategy paid immediate dividends. Suddenly, smoking cigarettes was a bona fide trend.

One hundred years ago, tobacco executives noticed that women were not smoking nearly to the level that men were. Marketing campaigns depicting smoking as a means of keeping a trim figure soon ensured that women would join the ranks of smokers by the millions.

Generations of young American servicemen were supplied free cigarettes while serving overseas. Big Tobacco knew that this would ensure that they would have customers for life. The practice of giving cigarettes to soldiers continued through the Vietnam War even though at the time the Surgeon General announced the link between smoking and disease.

All through this checkered history, Big Tobacco was adding chemicals and addictive to make cigarettes burn faster, to contain more nicotine and to make that nicotine enter your system as quickly and strongly as possible. The number of additives, most of them dangerous, has been increasing to this very day.

E-Cigarettes Are More Than A Smoking Alternative,

They Are A Moral Alternative

The electronic cigarette industry is the antithesis of Big Tobacco. The best e-cigarette brands are all dedicated to providing quality products with USP grade ingredients. The e-cig industry has been driven toward reducing toxins by utilizing only high grade ingredients. Consider that in contrast to Big Tobacco’s efforts to make their products more addictive and more profitable by adding whatever chemical necessary.

The best e-cigarette brands have regulated themselves with a great deal of conscience. Ethics outweigh profits. They will not sell to minors and they offer nicotine levels that allow people to customize their vaping. They are not trying to deepen your nicotine addiction, in fact quite the opposite.

There are e-cigarette companies that are totally profit driven and out to capitalize on a growing trend. To be honest, there are a lot of them. They are not that difficult to pick out of the crowd and ECCR will never recommend any of them. The leading brands are the heart of the e-cig industry and these same brands are also motivated to be better in every way.

The e-cig industry has survived the hostile intentions of Big Tobacco because of the passion of the people who founded the best e-cigarette companies. The passion was derived from something the money men sitting at board room tables in Big Tobacco office buildings could never understand. The idea of people before profits alongside the powerful passion to save people from the harms of tobacco.

Many of the best e-cigarette brands were built on the passions of ex-smokers that had found a genuine alternative and wanted to share the success with as many people as possible. These resilient entrepreneurs withstood the challenges of corporate powerhouses. Soon, Big Tobacco gave up on destroying the e-cig industry and decided that a better strategy would be to take it over.

Big Tobacco bought the most famous e-cig brand, Blu Cigs. Reynolds decided to start its own brand, Vuse. Through it all, the cream of the crop, the very best e-cigs, have continued building real relationships with their customers and providing a genuine alternative that has changed so many lives for the better. All of our recommended e-cig brands fall into this category.

E-cigs are a tobacco alternative. Better yet, they are an alternative to the dark history and dark motives of Big Tobacco.





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