This week, a Boston jury awarded $71 million to a Roxbury woman who died of lung cancer in 2002 at the age of 54. Her name was Marie Evans and she was a lifetime smoker.
Evans smoked Newports, a brand of menthol cigarettes owned by the company Lorillard, which was the defendant in the suit. Evans said that, as a 9-year-old, she'd been given free samples of Newport cigarettes, which she then traded for candy.
She described the women who handed out the sample cigarettes as "attractive" and, in her words, "all the things that I wanted to be."
By age 13, Evans was smoking.
A hearing was scheduled for Thursday to determine if additional punitive damages should be awarded on top of the $71 million in compensatory damages that Lorillard has already been ordered to pay. (UPDATE: an additional $81 million was awarded.)
The company says it plans to appeal the decision, and it denies that it marketed cigarettes to children in Roxbury, where Evans lived.
Since the 1960s, when Evans was a child, a lot has changed in the way cigarettes are marketed. It's now against the law for tobacco companies to give out free cigarettes to anyone — kids or adults. And companies can no longer use cartoon mascots or advertise in magazines with large teenage readerships.
- Lois Biener, senior research fellow, UMass Boston
- Alan Blum, director, Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society; professor, University of Alabama
This segment aired on December 16, 2010.