ENC Reacts To $23.6 Billion Verdict Against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco

A Florida widow awarded $23.6 billion in the death of her chain-smoking husband says the massive verdict is a message to Big Tobacco.

Legal experts and industry analysts say the punitive damages almost certainly will be significantly reduced on appeal, if not thrown out entirely.

But Cynthia Robinson of Pensacola says the figure almost doesn't matter. Her husband started smoking at 13 and died of lung cancer at 36. She says R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. has to own up to what happened to her husband.

The tobacco company plans to appeal.

So what do people here in Eastern Carolina think about the big verdict?

Denise Eaton told us, "That's a lot of money. Yeah, I think that's too much."

Mohamed Saleh also said, "That's too much money for someone to give. There's a lot of people starving around the world."

At 252 Tobacco Shop in Greenville, employee Mohamed Saleh says he sees countless customers everyday who say they're well aware of what could happen when they smoke cigarettes.

Saleh says, "They know for a fact that when you smoke too many cigarettes or anything the cancer could hit you."

Joshua Hopewell doesn't smoke, but he has a family member dealing with lung cancer. He says he sees both sides of it. "I do agree on one hand you can't put a price on someone's life, but then again, that is a lot of money for something that could have been prevented that isn't technically their fault because no one was forced to do anything."