That is the clear import of an article in the Washington Post.

“The reports are stunning,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “What’s critical is the consistency of the increase, which leads to the conclusion that it has to have been conscious and deliberate.”

No. Don’t tell me our highly honored values of unrestrained capitalism, and of profit as the wisest arranger of human affairs, can work against the common good!

Unfortunately there are Americans who talk as if profit really is the one true and reliable motive for human behavior, and wealth accumulation is the one ultimate standard to show us who is worthy and who is not.

To that way of thinking, if we conclude that the profit motive, left unsupervised, sometimes (or often) leads to unbridled evil, what do we have left? No way to motivate people! No effective value system!

Fortunately there are many of us who believe our faith, our Bibles, our Christ provide us with much more powerful motivation and much more humane and true values.

“People need to be aware of this,” said Sally Fogerty, Massachusetts’s associate commissioner for community health. “If a person is trying to quit and is having a hard time, it’s not just them. There is an increasing percentage of nicotine that they are ingesting, and that may make it more difficult.”

As the article says earlier, “nicotine is highly addictive.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [also had something to say] …

“We know nicotine is addictive, so if the amount of nicotine in cigarettes is increasing, it could make it even harder for the 70 percent of smokers who want to quit and the more than 40 percent who try to quit every year,” Corinne Husten, acting director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said in an e-mail message.

So here we have it. There are true American capitalists who would actually choose to harm fellow Americans or deliberately make their lives more difficult in order to improve the power and comfort of those who own or run these huge, powerful corporations.

No spokesman for a tobacco company would speak on the record about the Massachusetts findings yesterday.