The tobacco industry formed an "evil-minded conspiracy" in pursuit of profit to blind smokers to the dangers of smoking, a lawyer said Monday in closing arguments in a cigarette company liability trial.
The industry "callously and with no remorse sacrificed the lives of its loyal customers," charged attorney Marc Z. Edell.Edell represents Antonio Cipol-lone, who blames three cigarette companies for his wife's lung-cancer death. Rose Cipollone died in 1984 after smoking the companies' products for 40 years.
In closing arguments last week, tobacco company lawyers focused on Mrs. Cipollone, citing her own words, read from depositions taken the year she died, and testimony by relatives. The industry lawyers said she made an intelligent, independent choice to smoke and knew the risks.
But Edell in his closing arguments Monday reminded the jurors of allegations he raised in the four-month trial that the companies misled the public about the dangers of smoking through their advertising, public relations and research.
The industry formed an "evil-minded conspiracy, intended for one purpose and one purpose only: profits for the one part and deceit of the public for the other," he said.
Edell reviewed scientific research of the 1920s and 1930s that he said should have alerted the industry to the potential dangers of smoking.
He also went through a sample of the confidential company documents he introduced to support his charge that it was not until the early 1950s, when a pioneering study linked tobacco to mouse tumors, that the tobacco companies first started to consider the question.
And even then the companies did not tell what they knew, he charged.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from Liggett Group Inc., Lorillard Inc. and Philip Morris Co.