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Rule of law, not men

Yale Medicine Magazine, 1998 - Summer


To the Editor:
As a graduate of Yale College but not the medical school, I was pleased to begin receiving Yale Medicine. However, drawing upon my Yale education as a major in American history, I have always believed in the American tradition stating that we are a nation of laws, not men.

Thus, I read with interest the article and the quotation attributed to the medical school's new dean in your Fall 1997 issue. As a non-smoking physician, I share Dr. Kessler's view of smoking and the tobacco companies. However, the deals being forced on the tobacco companies are unconstitutional and an attack on the rule of law.

In a recent issue of The Freeman, Robert A. Levy makes the case that we can't ignore the constitutional infirmities just because the industry consents to them; that tobacco is not a special case and that other industries should be fearful; that prohibition as favored by Drs. Kessler and Koop would lead to a black market; that in fact cigarette smokers already pay more through the taxes on their cigarettes than the cost for their care; and that Congress should first eliminate all subsidies to tobacco before resorting to a legislated settlement.

I hope that Dean Kessler will encourage those in training to understand that a superb education with free choice and not a paternalistic attitude is the essence of a Yale education.

Robert H. Potts Jr., M.D.
Copper Mountain, Colo.