Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

The Synergy of Toxic Tort Law and Public Health: Lessons from a Century of Cigarettes

49 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2008 Last revised: 14 Apr 2009

Jean M. Eggen

Widener University - Delaware Law School

Date Written: October 16, 2008


Toxic torts is a relatively new area of the law, but its seeds were sown a century ago with developments in modern culture. The design, manufacture, and marketing of the cigarette constituted one such development, one with far-reaching legal consequences which continue to challenge the legal system today. This article is built around Allan M. Brandt's 2007 public health history of cigarettes, THE CIGARETTE CENTURY. It uses Brandt's book as a stepping stone to a broader discussion of current critical issues in toxic tort law. The article begins with a review of the book, then moves into a discussion of the ways in which the watershed events in law and science that surrounded the cigarette in the twentieth century have shaped the major legal issues in toxic tort law today. In conducting this analysis, I focus on the three major areas of scientific causation, preemption, and mass toxic tort litigation. I demonstrate that the public health history of cigarettes offers many lessons for judges, attorneys, and legal scholars in addressing the most troubling issues that arise in toxic tort litigation.

Keywords: toxic torts, tort law, health law, public health, cigarettes, smoking, brandt

JEL Classification: K13, I18

Suggested Citation

Eggen, Jean M., The Synergy of Toxic Tort Law and Public Health: Lessons from a Century of Cigarettes (October 16, 2008). Connecticut Law Review, Vol. 41, 2008; Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-79. Available at SSRN:

Jean Macchiaroli Eggen (Contact Author)

Widener University - Delaware Law School ( email )

4601 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE 19803-0406
United States
(302) 477-2155 (Phone)

Paper statistics

Abstract Views