6. New Rebels with a New Cause

Donna M. Shimp

Was the first person to be legally compensated for working in a smoky office.

“In the 1970’s, Donna Shimp was a Bell Telephone Copany employee of 15 years’ standing, with a good record. She suffered severe allergic reactions even to low concentrations of tobacco smoke. Shimp tolerated her situation until she was transferred to a poorly ventilated office where seven out of the 13 employees who shared the room were heavy smokers. After a series of formal complaints to management, she was offered a job switch that involved a demotion and lower pay. Ms. Shimp refused to accept the offer, which she considered to be a penalty. After exhausting all remaining grievance procedures, she launched a lawsuit against her employer in the New Jersey Superior Court.

The Court ordered Bell Telephone to provide Ms. Shimp with safe working conditions, specifically by prohibiting smoking in its offices and customer service areas. A key factor in persuading the judge to rule in Ms. Shimp’s favor was that the telephone company had prohibited smoking near some of its sophisticated equipment. The judge said, “If such rules are established for machines, I see no reason why they should not be held in force for humans.” What made the ruling so significant is that it was based not primarily on Ms. Shimps allergy, but on common law principles applicable to nonsmokers in general.”


C. Everett Koop


Snowdon  mentions that one of the negative unintended consequences of Koop’s view was “the appalling underfunding of lung cancer research. Seeing it as more of a behaviour problem than a medical one, the US Federal Government, by 2005, was funding lung cancer research to the tune of just $1,830 per patient, in contrast to the $14,370 spent on each case of prostate cancer and $23,475 on each case of breast cancer.”

This type of analysis is exactly the bread and butter of economics – studying how the scarce resources in the economy should be allocated. Presumably there exist some documents in the US Department of Health that explains the logic why one of these forms of cancer is more important than the other. Individually prostate is 7 times more important and breast 12 times more important than lung cancer.

See the amounts spent on combating smoking —???

Richard A. Daynard (TPLP)

Daynard, a law graduate, formed the Tobacco Products Liability Project and by 1990 had filed 150 suits on behalf of smokers who had become ill with ‘smoke related’ diseases. A similar organisation Ciglit was formed by lawyers in Texas.

Ronald Reagan

Reagan is not on this list because he was a rebel or anti-smoking activist. He is on the list because he has done more to reduce smoking than anyone on this list.

In 1982 he doubled the Federal tax on cigarettes to 18 cents per pack. He did not do this to curb smoking, but because the federal tax on cigarettes had not risen thirty years. This resulted in a 6.7% decrease in consumption. This reflected what happened in the UK when in 1947 post-war privatisation caused a 43% jump in tobacco duty and a resultant 14% decrease in consumption.

Marc Z. Edell and Rose Cipollone

Cipollone started to smoke in 1942 at age 17. In 1982 she lost a lung to cancer but continued to smoke. She died in 1984 aged 58.

Edell filed her case against Liggett & Meyer in 1983. The argument was that the cigarette industry knowingly misled Cipollone that cigarettes were safe in the years before the Cigarette Labelling Act. Edell forced L&M to reveal internal documents that hinted at a industry cover up.

The jury awarded Cipollone’s widower $ 400 000 making this the first liability claim that a cigarette company has lost. The verdict was reversed on appeal, but this served as a warning to the cigarette companies of things to come – and as an indication to lawyers of fortunes to be made.

Diane Castano and mr Butts

In 1994 the industry faced it largest class action yet involving 60 attorneys against American Tobacco. They chose Diane Castano as the lead plaintiff (her husband died of lung cancer at the age of 47. They also filed a class action involving 90 million plaintiffs.

Instead of seeking damages for personal injuries such as cancer, heart disease or other health problems caused by smoking, Gauthier decided to sue for problems resulting from addiction, such as mental distress, the cost of nicotine patches and of attending smoking-cessation classes.

An addiction-only lawsuit for one smoker wasn’t worth much in damages because the industry wasn’t being accused of killing the smoker or causing his health problems. However, a class-action on behalf of millions of addicted smokers, such as Peter Castano, could reap billions of dollars.

The 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit dismissed Castano, calling it too unwieldy.

During the case Stanton Glanz received a package with 4000 documents stolen from the offices of the lawyers of Brown & Wiliamson by a mysterious ‘Mr Butts’. These papers were also mailed to the New York Times

1994 was the year that started the darkest period for the tobacco companies being sued in nearly every state and wherever they were.


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