Publish date:

Smoked Out

Monday's $20 million judgment against Philip Morris and RJR shows that Main Street gets this story better than Wall Street.
Author:

If

Philip Morris

(MO) - Get Report

promises to send me a check, I won't call a lawyer and ask her to sue them. If

RJR

(RJR)

sends me a bucket of cash, I won't include them in the lawsuit. I don't want checks from some of those other guys; I don't know if they would clear.

Yeah, the pathetic state of the tobacco industry seems to come to the fore daily now. Today's $20 million punitive win for some smoker in California smacks totally of a the type of runaway train that started roaring toward asbestos and silicon breast implants.

These companies are hated. (And tell me that you wouldn't have thrown that smoking woman out of the restaurant and bought a drink of Grey Goose for Doc Melfi in last night's

TheStreet Recommends

Sopranos

?)

But they continue along their merry ways as if nobody ever wins against them and all is well. Funny thing is, if

Gore

wins, it will only get worse, not better for these folks, as second-hand smoke is a direct threat to the environment, a core issue of Gore's.

The only thing that amazed me about today's verdict was that the analysts haven't come out and reiterated their super-de-duper strong buys yet!

Guess we will have to wait till tomorrow for those hosannas. Amazing how these pariahs maintain their standing on Wall Street even as Main Street knows better. Amazing and pathetic.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund had no positions in any stocks mentioned. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at

jjcletters@thestreet.com.