Tuesday 16 August 2022

Addiction clinics join Dutch criminal case against big tobacco

Photo: DutchNews.nl

The Dutch addiction treatment sector has thrown its weight behind a law suit alleging tobacco companies conspired to get people addicted.

‘We’ve had enough. The criminal cigarette and all the dealers need to be tackled,’ addiction specialist Robert van de Graaf told the AD on Tuesday.

The sector has been debating throwing its weight behind the case for a year and last week’s statement of support by the biggest Dutch cancer hospital was the final push, Van de Graaf said.

‘We need to get on with it,’ he told the AD. ‘This product is so dangerous. It is unbelievable that it is sold in supermarkets.’

The case was started by lung cancer patient Anne Marie van Veen and lawyer Bénédicte Ficq who accused the tobacco firms of doing ‘deliberate damage to public health’ and ‘forgery of documents’.

They aim not to win damages but to force tobacco companies to behave differently, arguing that tobacco firms cannot hide behind the freedom of choice of people to smoke because they are deliberately influencing smokers’ behaviour.

‘To limit that freedom, addictive chemicals such as nicotine and other additives are put into cigarettes,’ they say. ‘And [the companies] overcome our natural aversion to poisons by adding substances like menthol.’

The public prosecution department is currently looking at the complaint and will decide whether or not the tobacco firms have a case to answer.

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