Focus Point - Tobacco Follies

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. A lasting legacy of the Clinton Administration will be its legal battles with the big tobacco companies. As a legacy, it isn't much.

The settlement with the tobacco companies cost them billions of dollars and put a crimp in the way they operate. One of the major stated goals was to stop kids from smoking by - unstated goal - ruining the companies.

It didn't work. R.J. Reynolds and Lorrilard are at 52-week highs on wall street. All the big four have booming sales.

And kids? Less than ten percent of the settlement funds are actually being spent on anti-smoking campaigns. And the percentage of eighth, tenth and twelfth graders who smoke hasn't changed in 20 years.

So who won? Who do you think? The lawyers. Lawyers like David Boies walked away with billions, big tobacco is cruising, and kids are still smoking.

Some legacy.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, what recession?