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The tobacco companies have been getting a lot of bad reviews lately. They are being sued for millions of dollars for smokers’ Medicaid bills. I do not understand why they are being sued. The tobacco companies are only trying to make a living like everyone else. Warning labels are put on cigarette packs, and everyone knows about the hazards of smoking. People make the decision to smoke, so why should the tobacco companies take the blame? Tobacco use, along with the association of its danger, has been around as long as the discovery of America. But suddenly the companies are being placed with the blame.

According to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center the Indians first used tobacco as a healing drug and at religious ceremonies before Columbus discovered America. When Columbus did arrive in the Easter World he observed the Indians and their use for tobacco. He acquired the plant and its seeds and took them back to Europe where they began cultivating it and using it for their own purposes. They believed that tobacco was a cure all drug, literally. They thought it could cure anything from the common cold to diarrhea to cancer. Around this time smoking tobacco also became a social aspect for the European upper class. Tobacco soon became a major crop in the New Land, mainly Virginia where it was produced for pope smoking, chewing, and snuff. Soon cigarettes became the popular way of getting the daily dose of tobacco.

Christopher Columbus brought tobacco to Europe and made it popular. The tobacco industry emerged from the people’s desire for the product. All the company wanted to do was give the people what they desired, but they get blamed for trying to seduce young people into using their product. They provided the new America with one of its chief exports, but they are being ridiculed for it now. The tobacco industry had no idea that the product was not good for its clients when they first began its production. It was not until the early twentieth century that the danger of tobacco use was proven.

CNN’s web page on the history of tobacco states that it was 1930 when German researchers made a statistical correlation between smoking and cancer, and even then the proof was not certain. Only in 1944 did the American Cancer Society begin to warn people about the hazards of smoking, and they even stated “no definite evidence exists.” Upon the publication of the Reader’s Digest article “Cancer by the Carton” tobacco sales went down for the first time ever. Within two years the tobacco companies created the Tobacco Industry Research Council to find safer ways to produce cigarettes. They came up with the idea of the filtered cigarette and low-tar formulations. The tobacco companies had no intent to poison its customs; however, they were made out to be the bad guys of the situation.

Every since this attack on the industry, tobacco companies have been harassed by the government and the public. According to CNN’s web site in 1965 Congress passed an act requiring that a surgeon general’s warning be placed on all cigarette packs. People now know that cigarettes are bad for them, and yet they continue to purchase the product.

But it is not the people’s fault for wanting to smoke. The tobacco company gets blamed for this. So to put the company down even more all of the broadcasting rights were taken from them in 1971. This did not stop the company though because they were dedicated to serving their customers. In 1990 smoking began to be banned from public places. This started on interstate buses and airplane flights. Later the government planned to regulate tobacco because it believed that the companies were trying to target younger audiences. The tobacco companies were just trying to get customers just like any other industry. With all of their limitations I do not see how they were able to target any one group.

The decision to smoke should not be that of the governments or that of the tobacco industries; this decision should be left up to individuals. With all of the negative campaigning for the tobacco companies it seems like more people are being pressured not to smoke. People should be mature enough to make their own major decisions. The tobacco industry is merely advertising its product while other people are forcing their opinions on the public. No matter how long these battles go on the people will still make a decision that they believe is true, and no one should try to convince them otherwise.

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