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Ex- Smoker Ignored Warnings

October 13, 2002

Re "Philip Morris Ordered to Pay $28 Billion to Smoker," Oct. 5:

I am a former smoker. The decision to quit smoking demanded more willpower from me than anything I have abstained from. I am reading about Betty Bullock of Newport Beach, who was just awarded $28 billion in damages from Philip Morris, and her decades-long smoking habit that is now imposing a limit on her life. I sympathize with her struggle.

However, I cannot help wondering how a relatively intelligent woman can be blind to all the danger signs that this habit clearly gives a smoker. I never needed a cigarette company to let me know how vulgar and dangerous this habit is: The permeating smell, the effects on your skin, the constant coughing, the lingering colds, the feeling that you are a slave to your cigarettes -- as a junkie is to heroin.

There have been warnings on cigarette packages for decades. Anyone who claims to be lured by the advertising of the tobacco companies is transferring the accountability for their health to the manufacturers. This only escalates our country's highly litigious environment. People should have character enough to know that they, and only they, control what they do to their bodies.

If we extrapolated this transfer-of-accountability logic, why couldn't an alcoholic who is charged with the vehicular manslaughter of a family while driving intoxicated plead for his defense by pointing the finger of blame at the spirits-maker who lured him into his drinking habit in the first place?

J. Bingham

Orange

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So Bullock, 64, won a $28-billion judgment against Philip Morris because cancer she got from smoking will probably take 20 years off her life? If the figures are correct, that works out to $1.2 billion a year for each lost year.

It's been known for years that smoking (as well as using illegal drugs) is harmful to your health. When I was a high school student in the 1950s, cigarettes were called coffin nails. Each one supposedly drove another nail in your coffin. She ignored the warnings and smoked anyway.

I don't want to sound cruel, but is her life really worth $1.2 billion a year?

For 34 years, a motorcycle, rain or shine, was my transportation. Then I developed, arthritis (probably from racing accidents), asthma and severe allergies and had to stop riding. Shouldn't I get billions from Triumph, BMW and Suzuki for my reduced lifestyle?

Burl Estes

Mission Viejo

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