Why aren't alcohol companies sued like tobacco?

Is it because of tobacco’s official denials/lies about lung cancer, where the beer companies pretty much say nothing?

Or are they being sued and I haven’t heard?

I think its more a question than a debate, but why would anyone want to sue an alcohol corporation?

Perhaps because:

a) alcohol is not a universally addictive substance, which nicotine pretty much is. Virtually everyone who takes up smoking for longer than 5 minutes becomes physically addicted to it. There are exceptions, but they simply prove the rule.

b) alcohol, unless it is severely abused, doesn’t kill you. Nicotine taken in relatively small doses will contribute to at least a dozen fatal illnesses.

We do precision guesswork

Why sue alcohol companies?
I have never heard of someone smoking so much they lost their job, smacked their kids around, and then got in their car and slammed into a busload of nuns and puppies. To answer the question, I can’t prove this, but I suspect the reason you never see anti-alcohol legislation is that the beer and liquor lobbies make the famed ciggarette lobby look tiny. (That is, the ciggarette lobby is so big that it gets all the press; the liquor lobby is so much bigger, it dosn’t get any). Like I said, this is just a guess, but I think it likely.

Another guess: there are all sorts of laws in place that make drunk driving illegal, that restrict bars from serving minors, etc.

Apparently, individuals can be sued – if I have a party at my house and someone drinks too much and causes an accident, I can be sued for contributing etc.

It’s a good question, Rev, I wish I knew a good answer.

I almost did put this in General Questions, then I thought it would probably turn into a debate about taking responsibilty for one’s actions.

As to why people might sue alcohol companies, I could see the following situation: Guy gets drunk, does a Bad Thing, and decided it’s the alcohol pushers that are responsible, not him. Or maybe even the family of someone killed by drunk driver.

Bars do get sued in exactly these circumstances, as do private individuals. I think the real question is, why don’t companies like Budwiser or Absolut ever get sued? Or even yelled at by the media? Why is “Joe Camel” outlawed because it appeals it youngsters but no one accuses the beer companies w/ their frogs and cute dogs and other such motiffs of the same crime? I think it is blatenly obvious that the alcohol industry targets under age drinkers, but no one cares.

“alcohol, unless it is severely abused, doesn’t kill you. Nicotine taken in relatively small doses will contribute to at least a dozen fatal illnesses.”~~Stoidela

Alcohol is more dangerous than cigarettes (not that cigarettes aren’t awful for you). Alcohol can kill you in many ways, directly and indirectly: car accidents, homicide, and simple alcohol overdose can kill people who are not even addicted to it- car accidents and homicide caused by alcohol also kill people who have never taken a drink in their lives. Alcoholism is much more prevalent than most people would believe; it can kill you by liver failure, stomach cancer, bleeding/clotting problems such as esophageal varices and blood dyscrasias, liver cancer (my own dad died of this) or DT’s. (DT’s might seem like a minor thing, even a funny thing, but they are terribly dangerous.) Long term alcohol abuse weakens all the tissues in your body; when an alcoholic has surgery his tissues literally fall apart. Alcohol causes severe atrophy of the brain; I can see this on a CT scan, and I’m not a radiologist. Unlike nicotine addiction, alcohol abuse destroys families, often leads to suicide, and scars children.

I guess it depends on your definition of “severe” abuse. If you mean drinking to the point where these health problems can occur, a whole lotta people severely abuse it.

Politicians like to drink alcohol. They don’t smoke. Well, we all know about one politician who enjoys Cubans soaked incider :slight_smile:

About five (or more?) years ago I remember a well publicized suit against one of the big producers (Seagrams perhaps?). I searched it just now and didn’t find anything. Guts of it was a woman suing the boozemaker for providing the juice w/which she made herself a hopeless drunk. I’m guessing that it was probably some kind of inadequate warning label or seductive marketing argument. She lost.

OK… This may sound really bizzare, but here goes a possible way to look at the issue. Not saying even I buy it, but its a way to look at it:

Most of the consequences of alcohol abuse are short-term and/or behavioral. Most of the damage done by alcohol use is primarily by the things people do to others while on alcohol (sidenote: I KNOW alcohol does real physical harm to a person body, expecially when abused for long periods of time, but the public perception of alcohol is that its primary problem is the behavioral dangers it creates). Nicotine’s damage is percieved to be primarily biological. It doesn’t cause people to rape, crash their car, vandalize, do stupid stuff, etc. It just rots your lungs and destroys your heart. These damages only become apparent after prolonged usage. It only takes a few hours of alcohol usage for the behavioral problems to become evident to the general public, it takes decades for the physical problems with cigarette smoking to become publicly evident.

Our culture is one that finds a person responsible for their behavior, but not for their biology. If you drank and crashed your car and crippled yourself, it’s your own damn fault. But if you smoked and thirty years down the road, something went wrong with some internal organs which you don’t quite understand, well it CAN’T be your fault. It must be someone elses.

Plus, there’s the problem that cigarettes are produced by about 2 companies. It’s easy to pick on people when only 2 are to blame. Legally speaking, you can hit 90% of all cigarette production by attacking RJ Reaynolds and Phillip Morris. With regards to alcohol, it’s a much more dispersed industry. Even if you take the top 3-4 producers of alcoholic beverages in the country, you still don’t account for even half of the alcohol consumed. Much trickier issue at stake.

But I still like my first idea better. Not sure I completely buy it yet, but it has a certain rational coherence that I like.

Jason R Remy

“Open mindedness is not the same thing as empty mindedness.”
– John Dewey Democracy and Education (1916)

I can’t help but think that this is also the legacy of Prohibition. We tried to vilify alcohol and failed, so people have given up on that battle. Cigarettes, on the other hand, are a relatively new enemy, and the discovery of their ill effects is fairly recent, while the ill effects of alcohol have been known about forever. No one can claim that they didn’t know that alcohol was bad for them when they started drinking.

I also agree with jayron that there’s a difference between health effects and behavioral effects. People who smoke may or may not develop lung cancer purely from chance, but people who drink vary widely in their behavior depending on their own personality. There are quiet drunks, jolly drunks, violent drunks, sentimental drunks. There are people who drink and still know better than to drive, and there are people who don’t. Somebody who sued because he did a Bad Thing, as Revtim put it, would be making the addiction/free will issue even more problematic than it is with cigarettes.

Finally, not only are cigarettes produced by only a few companies, but they serve a minority of the public, and most of that minority is lower-class. The situation is quite different with alcohol. As someone pointed out in another thread, it’s easy to vilify what you don’t do.

I suspect the answer is very close to what RevTim said in his OP. Tobacco manufacturers have been lying to the public for years about what their product does or doesn’t do. There have been cases of them purposely marketing their product to children. There has been evidence that they have purposely added nicotine to make them more addictive. Etc. All these things add up to show that they are not just selling a product, but going out of their way to get more sales while acting like it’s harmless.

Alcohol, meanwhile, tells you right on the label what % is the addictive substance in question (the alcohol itself), and they have not been going on for years about how harmless their product is while concealing information to the contrary.

Well, I personally don’t think that alcohol * or * tobacco companies should be sued, the reason being that nobody holds a gun to your head and tells you that you have to drink or smoke. This business of suing a tobacco company because you have lung cancer is a crock. Anybody who smokes knew fully well what was going on the day they sucked in their first lungful: they coughed and hacked and choked on the crap, because their body was telling them this was not good stuff. But, they chose to ignore their body, because smoking was “kewel”, and so they got addicted. I don’t smoke, but both my parents did. I recall sitting in the back of the car on a long drive with all the windows up and them both puffing away, and I was gagging in the resulting cloud of blue haze. I decided by the time I left home that I didn’t need to smoke----I’d already inhaled enough of the second-hand variety to last me a lifetime.

However, America is lawsuit-happy and low on personal responsibilty, so it’s easier to sue the tobacco company for your own stupidity. It’s easier to sue the Budweiser company when you hit a tree because you’re sloshed. It’s easier to sue Smith & Wesson because your kid just shot up his school than to admit that you may have failed in raising him. It’s easier to sue the furniture manufacturer of the chair that collapsed under your 450 pounds than it is to lose some weight. It goes on and on. Nobody is willing to say “It’s my fault, I am to blame,” any more.

Personally, I wouldn’t be hurt if every tobacco company in existance went out of the tobacco business entirely. It’s not like they’d go broke, after all. I have in my possession a copy of the 1997 Annual Report for the Philip Morris Company, and you’d be astonished at what they own. Some examples:

—Kraft cheeses, mayonnaise, & pasta
—Maxwell House coffee
—Oscar Meyer meats
—Post cereals
—DiGiorno Pizza products
—Toblerone chocolates
—Altoids Peppermints
—Stove Top Stuffing
—and several different brands of beer, including Miller, Molson, Icehouse, Red Dog, and Foster’s Lager. So even if they dropped the weed entirely, they wouldn’t dry up and disappear; they’d lose revenue, certainly, but they wouldn’t go out of business. The other tobacco companies are the same—they’re heavy into foods, alcohol, cosmetics, and, ironically, health-care products. They obviously would not go broke.

I don’t think too highly of most tobacco/gun litigation, but (A) the intentional concealment of smoking’s danger is one reason they have been sued and alcohol companies mainly haven’t, and (B) I suspect they will be sued on similar grounds before too long absent a preemptive settlement.

Just to be clear: I don’t think alcohol companies should be sued, it just seemed to me that they are as big a litigation target as tobacco.

This is a simple one:
Most politicians and attorneys are drunks.

Wasn’t there a case, or am I remembering it wrong, from the 1980-ish time period where a guy who worked at a beer factory/distillery of some sort died from alcohol poisoning after x amount of time of consumption from the free booze giveaways that the company did at that time? I thought his widow sued for wrongful death. It is sticking in my mind it was Kentucky or Tennessee.

Am I making up stories again ?