Ethics and the Tobacco Industry

Over the 20th century, the tobacco industry was transformed by evolving views on its social legitimacy and increasing federal regulations limiting the sale and advertisement of tobacco products. In the early half of the century, doctors promoted cigarettes in advertisements, vouching for their soothing effects. The U.S. government distributed cigarettes to soldiers in World War II, treating them as essential rations. But by the early 1950s, the first health concerns were raised, and the industry moved into decades of defensive and offensive strategizing, outspending all litigants and claimants. The century ended with the remarkable Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) in 1998, forcing the tobacco companies to collectively disclose 45 million pages of internal company documents in a class action suit waged by 27 of the ...

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