Dutch public prosecutor rejects criminal case against big tobacco firms

One in four people in the Netherlands is affected by a brain condition – study

The Dutch public prosecution department on Thursday said it would not proceed with a criminal case against the big tobacco companies based in the Netherlands in which the firms are accused of deliberately damaging public health and forgery. Tobacco products are legal and smokers themselves have the choice whether or not to accept the health risks. This means, the department said, that the negative effect of smoking cannot be blamed on tobacco companies. Although smoking is deadly and producing cigarettes contributes to that, the tobacco firms are not breaking the law, the department said.  Within the current legal system, there is no option which could potentially lead to a successful prosecution, the department said. The case, supported by Dutch hospitals, cancer charities and healthcare groups, was launched in 2016 by lung cancer patient Anne Marie van Veen and lawyer Bénédicte Ficq. They accuse the tobacco firms - Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International and Imperial Tobacco Benelux - of doing ‘deliberate damage to public health’ and ‘forgery of documents’. The case describes the ‘crimes’ committed by the tobacco firms as ‘attempted murder, alternatively attempted manslaughter and/or attempted severe and premeditated physical abuse and/or attempted deliberate and premeditated injuring of health.’ In addition, they argue the big tobacco firms are guilty of ‘forgery since the tobacco manufacturers have for years declared emission levels of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide on the packages of their tobacco products which were lower than the actual emission levels.’ Ficq said later on Thursday that she will take the case to the appeal court to try to force the public prosecutor to rethink.  More >

Younger women prefer female doctors

Younger women prefer a female doctor for intimate issues Some six in 10 Dutch women under the age of 40 would prefer to see a female doctor for intimate issues such as cervical smears, according to research by women's magazine Libelle and the Dutch patients' federation. Over 25% of all women would rather have a female doctor altogether, but this rises to 40% for specifically female issues such as period pain, the research showed. Much of this is due to embarrassment about their bodies and one in eight women will delay a visit to a doctor if they are confronted with a male doctor, the survey said. Professor Toine Lagro told the magazine that such a high percentage cannot be ignored. 'This means that women should be given the option of seeing a female doctor,' Lagro said. Some 38% of the 7,000 people questioned for the research did not know they have that right, Lagro said. Women now account for more than half the country's family doctors and two-thirds of the current generation of medical students are female.  More >

Fewer Dutch children die of cancer

One in four people in the Netherlands is affected by a brain condition – study Just 60 children in the Netherlands died of cancer in 2016, compared with over 200 in the early 1970s, the national statistics office CBS said on Thursday. In particular, the drop was marked for leukemia deaths - down from around 100 a year to fewer than 20, the CBS said. Dutch cancer charity KWF Kankerbestrijding says that knowledge about leukemia had expanded considerably over the period. Doctors are aware there are some 40 different types which helps them to target treatment and new approaches, such as stem cell transplants, are also offering hope, broadcaster NOS said. Nevertheless, cancer remains the most common cause of death in the under the age of 16. Three out of 10 children who die, die of cancer. Brain tumours are by far the biggest cause of death.   More >

Thousands say no to organ donation

New organ donor law prompts flurry of ‘no donation’ registrations Some 30,000 people accessed the current Dutch organ donor register following Tuesday night's historic vote to say that they did not want their organs to be donated after their death. In total, nearly 29,500 new registrations were made, of whom 24,500 opted out of donation. In addition, over 6,000 people who were already on the register changed their choice to a no vote. The other new registrations were split between people who wanted to be a donor and those who would leave the choice up to their relatives, broadcaster RTL reported. Over 6.1 million people are currently included on the organ donation register, and 60% are in favour of being donors. Almost 12% will leave the donation up to relatives and the rest are opposed. The new system, which will come into effect in summer 2020, is a 'yes but' register. Everyone will be included and will be considered a potential donor unless they have specifically said that they do not want to donate their organs after death.  More >

Organ law will apply to all residents

One in four people in the Netherlands is affected by a brain condition – study The Dutch senate on Tuesday narrowly voted in favour of a new law to change the Dutch organ donation system to a 'yes unless' register. The new system will apply to everyone over the age of 18 and registered as resident in the Netherlands with their local authority, including foreign nationals. A spokesman for the health ministry told DutchNews.nl that it will depend on how expats are registered whether or not they are included in the register. 'The law is coming into effect in the summer of 2020 and before then there will be campaigns to reach everyone as much as possible,' the spokesman said. 'The government will also talk to doctors, patients associations and other organisations to develop protocols ... to decide how specific cases should be dealt with.' The health ministry has immediately launched a campaign to brief people on the new rules - but only in Dutch at present. Here's an unofficial summary in English. When does the new Active Donor Registration (ADR) law come into effect? In the summer of 2020. Until then the old law is still valid which means you will only become a donor if you have explicitly expressed a wish to that effect. What will change with the new law? At the moment you can decide on one of four options about donating your organs: yes, no, my partner decides, my relatives decide. From 2020 people who do not opt for any of these will automatically be registered as a donor. But in any case - and this has been a contentious issue – relatives will still have the final word, even if the deceased has given permission for his organs to be used. Will I become a donor without me knowing about it? No. Every person aged 18 or older will get a letter in which they are invited to choose an option. If the person does not respond another letter will be sent. In the absence of a response the person will be registered as having ‘no objection’ to donating his/her organs. How do I register my preference? You can go to the donor register https://www.donorregister.nl/, or state your preference on a form available from hospitals and town halls. You can change your preference at any time. If you want to state your preference online, you will need a Digid, or digital signature. Will all my organs be donated with the new law? No. You can still choose which organs you would like to donate.  More >