Historian to Retrace U.S. View of Smoking

Article excerpt

Long before the surgeon general linked smoking to lung cancer,

it was common knowledge that cigarettes were dangerous, a

historian will tell a Jacksonville jury today.

Lacy Ford told a Jacksonville jury yesterday in a wrongfuldeath

case against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. that he's studied the

common knowledge Americans had of smoking and health.

Ford, a University of South Carolina history professor, said

he's reviewed Jacksonville newspapers, magazines, Duval County

school books and public opinion polls. That information showed

him what average people -- including a deceased Jacksonville

smoker at the heart of this case -- knew at a given time.

Ford, who is testifying on behalf of the tobacco company, is

expected to say that years before warnings appeared on cigarette

packs, most people believed cigarette smokers were endangering

their health.

"Common knowledge is communal knowledge . . . not what any

individual has read from any source. It's broadly known," he

said.

Ford is the third defense witness in the case for Reynolds,

which is being sued by the survivors of a heavy smoker who died

in 1995 at age 49. Jean Connor began smoking at age 14 or 15 in

the early 1960s. She smoked two to three packs a day of

Reynolds' Winston and Salem brand cigarettes for 22 years.

Jurors have already heard from a Reynolds cigarette designer,

who testified that the Winston-Salem, N. …