19 September 2016
To the Editor:
Re “Tobacco Lobby Tries to Shield E-Cigarettes” (front page, Sept. 3):
Not much has changed. Decades ago tobacco companies were advertising that cigarettes were good for you and that certain brands were recommended by doctors. Now the industry is claiming that e-cigarettes “improve people’s lives.”
They insist that if the Food and Drug Administration examines their products for public health and risks, it “could hurt public health by forcing a large share of e-cigarette companies out of business.”
“A 900 percent increase in high schoolers using e-cigarettes” is what hurts public health — not the purveyors going out of business.
I presided over the first tobacco litigation for about 10 years until I was removed from the cases because I criticized the industry too harshly. At my Senate hearing for elevation to the Court of Appeals, I conceded quite reluctantly that my language may not have been appropriate for a judicial opinion. I now wish to retract that concession and declare that it wasn’t harsh enough. I repeat what I said in my opinion 24 years ago, because apparently it is just as apt today:
“All too often in the choice between the physical health of consumers and the financial well-being of business, concealment is chosen over disclosure, sales over safety, and money over morality. Who are these persons who knowingly and secretly decide to put the buying public at risk solely for the purpose of making profits and who believe that illness and death of consumers is an appropriate cost of their own prosperity!”
H. LEE SAROKIN
La Jolla, Calif.
The writer is a retired federal judge.