The documents discussed in this chapter confirm what has been known about the myriad legal problems besetting the tobacco industry in the past few decades. They also shed new light on how the industry has dealt with those problems. Many of the problems are unique to the industry—which is not surprising, since it produces a product that is dangerous when used as intended—and its responses have often reflected that realization. Thus, on the one hand, we have seen that the industry actually welcomed a ban on the broadcast advertising of its products (something that would be unthinkable for the manufacturer of any other legal product); on the other hand, we have seen that the industry adopted a totally uncompromising stance against the settlement of any products liability lawsuits. And we have seen the lengths to which one company apparently went to avoid the discovery of documents that might be useful to an opponent in a lawsuit. Despite its problems, the industry has managed to remain unscathed, considering how much damage some of the attacks against it might have inflicted if they had been more successful.
The industry's charmed existence, however, may not last forever. On the horizon are new legal battles that promise to be even more daunting than those already faced: the possible regulation of cigarettes by the Food and Drug Administration; increased and more comprehensive regulation of smoking in public places and the workplace; class-action products liability lawsuits involving millions of plaintiffs, both smokers and nonsmokers; lawsuits by various state governments seeking reimbursement for state medical expenses due to smoking; the possible mandating of fire-safe cigarettes; and the possible ban on or severe restriction of ciga-
rette advertising. It remains to be seen whether the industry's lawyers and public relations experts can weather the impending storm.