Every once in a while you read something in your first reaction is “what the heck”. This is one of those stories.

It was reported this week that cigarette makers are trying to find a way to keep the federal government from going to the United States Supreme Court to ask them to uphold racketeering charges against cigarette makers who, for decades, the negative effects of cigarette smoking and decided to keep it quiet rather than warn people about the dangers of smoking. All of this comes on the heels of the federal government finding cigarette makers more than $280 billion in fines and having the lower court determined that the federal government probably didn’t have the right to collect this money. This is strange because the judge had also found that the cigarette makers really were in violation of withholding this evidence.

Anyway, the cigarette makers seem to be winning right now, which begs the question why are they so worried about this case going to the Supreme Court. After all, the Supreme Court is mainly filled with conservatives, and it would seem that they would be the favorites in winning a 5 to 4 decision in their favor once again. At the same time however, the cigarette companies are actually appealing to the Supreme Court to get the racketeering charges overturned. This turns into a very interesting Catch-22 situation.

You might be asking what this has to do with finances. The top two things that federal government have to deal with as it pertains to paying money into health care programs for people concerned smoking and diabetes. The problem with smoking is that it is a known contributor towards both lung cancer and target=”_blank”>emphysema, two diseases that once you’ve been diagnosed for you can overcome. As a matter of fact, cigarette smoking is responsible for 90% of all lung cancer deaths, and something close to that for emphysema. This puts a strain on services such as Medicaid in trying to treat people, says lower income people tend to smoke more than people who have higher incomes.

The idea behind the government trying to get the larger pot of money is so they can use that money to distribute to the states to help take care of people who end up having smoking-related illnesses. Personally, I have no sympathy for any company whose products main purpose is to hurt somebody. Sure, someone could try to equate smoking with eating sweets, but there is not even a close comparison. Eating sweets did not relate directly to diabetes; smoking does relate directly to both lung cancer and emphysema. In treating people for both of these diseases cost more than it does to treat people with diabetes, and the diseases caused by smoking are more terminal than anything related to sweets.

No one has any real idea where all of this is going to come out in the end, but my overall hope would be that the cigarette companies will own up to the responsibility they need to show to the American public and the rest of the world and the knowledge Inc. that they withheld information that they knew that their product was killing people and that they will eventually do the right thing. I just don’t have that warm and fuzzy feeling that they will.

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