A doctors’ organisation and physiotherapists’ network have become the latest groups to throw their weight behind a Dutch court case against the big four tobacco firms, accusing them of grievous bodily harm and fraud.
The NTvG represents some 250 doctors while nearly 2,000 physiotherapists are members of the ClaudicationNet foundation, the Volkskrant said on Friday.
‘We doctors want to take on the tobacco industry together with patients,’ Dink Legemate, a chief surgeon at Amsterdam’s AMC teaching hospital and board member of the NTvG.
‘We see the heartache caused by the tobacco industry every day: amputated legs, heart attacks, strokes, people who have shorter lives because they smoked and wrestle with the fact they are going to die.’
Between 70% and 80% of the organisation’s members backed the decision to join the court case, Legemate said.
Cancer charity KWF Kankerbestrijding joined the campaign, launched by smoker Anne Marie van Veen, in March.
The aim of the ‘Sick of Smoking’ campaign is not to win damages for patients but to get the big tobacco firms convicted of deliberately causing harm. They have done this by expressly making cigarettes addictive, the organisation says.
In particular, the case accuses the industry of using cigarettes that give false readings in test results through the use of tiny ventilation holes in filters.
Cigarette smoke is tested in laboratories for tar and nicotine, but the results are distorted by the use of holes. These are closed up by the mouth and fingers when people smoke, but left open during the testing process. This means people are inhaling up to 2.5 times more chemicals than lab reports show.
The public prosecution department still has to decide whether to proceed with a prosecution.