Business

Big Tobacco Gets Off Easy

In 1999, the Clinton Administration began suing Big Tobacco on the grounds that they were deceiving the public in their packaging and what remained of their marketing efforts. In a recent ruling at the District Court level, they got a slap on the wrist as a result.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler did order the companies to publish in newspapers and on their Web sites "corrective statements" on the adverse health effects and addictiveness of smoking and nicotine.

She also ordered tobacco companies to stop labeling cigarettes as "low tar," "light," "ultra light" or "mild," since such cigarettes have been found to be no safer than others because of how people smoke them.

The judge stopped short, however, of granting the $10 Billion (down from $130 Billion) the Justice Department had sought as funding for a national smoking cessation campaign.

The press, typically, is billing this as a loss for the Tobacco companies. How this cannot be viewed as a win for them escapes me. These companies sell a product that kills people and cost taxpayers tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars every year; and, their penalty is to change their packaging to be less deceptive?

Understanding The Demise Of The Electric Car

"Who Killed The Electric Car?" asks Chris Paine in his recently released documentary of the same name. The documentary ultimately lays the blame at the feet of several people/organizations. This commentary from CNN provides a nice recap of the film and the issues it raises. For the most part, the motives of the parties involved are clear. The most difficult to understand, however, is the automakers themselves. The movie makes the case for their motives but never really spells them out. Here's the reasoning that I inferred from the evidence presented/hinted at:

  • mandate - the companies were annoyed at being told they must sell these cars.
  • profit - they never saw enough demand to allow them to go into mass production.
  • maintenance - the cars required so little maintenance that the manufacturers and dealers saw no hope of making money from the service/parts side of the business.
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