Tuesday 26 January 2021

Big tobacco court case won’t happen; no grounds for prosecution

The lawsuit against tobacco firms initiated by anti-smoking campaigners and health groups will not go ahead now the appeal court has said there are no grounds for prosecution.

The public prosecution department said in February that it would not prosecute the case and on Thursday the appeal court too ruled that the tobacco companies are not doing anything wrong and there is no case to answer.

‘The complainants in this case are at the wrong address,’ the court said in its ruling. Instead they should be pressuring the government to change the laws, the court 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’.

Attempted murder

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.’

A spokesman for Philip Morris told broadcaster NOS that the ruling recognises the fact that tobacco is a ‘strictly regulated product’ and that the risks have been known for decades.

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