Amsterdam backs anti-smoking court case, aims for smoke-free city

Amsterdam city council has thrown its weight behind the anti-smoking law suit which aims to prove the big tobacco companies deliberately conspired to make people addicts.

‘We have been trying to achieve a smoke free Amsterdam for years and supporting this court case fits in with this,’ city alderman Eric van der Burg said in a statement.

The city’s cancer hospital AVL and the Dutch addiction treatment sector have also recently said they are supporting the case, which was launched in 2016.

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’.

Their aim is 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.