Six major American tobacco companies defeated a lawsuit filed by hospitals in the state of Missouri which demanded compensation for treating uninsured patients with smoking related illnesses. The hospitals claimed that the tobacco firms had delivered an “unreasonably dangerous” product while medical ethics compelled them to treat people in need, regardless of their ability to pay.
A jury in St Louis rejected the hospitals’ claim. According to an official from Lorillard, one of the companies in the case, “evidence was presented to the jury, including testimony from hospital witnesses, that confirmed the hospitals were not financially damaged as they asserted.”
Whether they were or not, the notion that cigarette producers are to blame for the averse health effects of smoking is absurd. If people chose to smoke, knowing full well that it’s detrimental to their health, tobacco companies cannot reasonably be held accountable for the consequences.
Hospitals, moreover, have no moral obligation to treat patients who can or will not pay for health care. If they do, that’s their right and their choice but they should not expect others to foot the bill.