Tobacco companies escape



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Friday 26 February 1999

ASH/ Press releases/

 

102 CliftonStreet, London EC2A 4HW Tel: (020) 7739 5902 Fax: (020) 7613 0531

Press release26th February 1999 ASH
Action on Smoking
and Health

Tobacco companies escape

ASH today sympathised with the decision taken by most ofthe lung cancer victims not to continue their case against Gallaher and Imperial Tobacco,following a judge’s ruling that 36 lung cancer sufferers could not continue their casebecause they had been diagnosed with the disease more than three years before suing.

Clive Bates, Director of ASH, said: “Our thoughts are with those who were struck downwith lung cancer and yet dared to take on the tobacco companies.  They have beendenied a proper hearing by a huge legal onslaught mounted by the tobacco companies and aconservative judge who appeared to have made his mind up early in the proceedings.”

“A series of judges displayed narrow and outdated attitudes to the science and ethicsof smoking throughout the preliminary hearings.  In the end it was quite obvious thatthe trial judge did not want the case to continue to a full trial in 2000.  Withoutever hearing the evidence, the judge effectively killed the case.”

“We have great respect and admiration for the lung cancer sufferers, many of whom arevery frail and traumatised by the judges decision.  We are concerned that this sendsa negative signal to law firms interested in public interest litigation – the legal firmsinvolved have sunk an enormous amount of money and time into this pioneering action, yetthe signal from this case is that the judiciary is instinctively inclined to support bigbusiness and the status quo.  The contrast with the United States could not begreater or more depressing.”

“Six million people have prematurely died as a result of smoking in the UK since thewar – yet the legal system seems unable or unwilling to establish if anyone making thisproduct bears any responsibility for this terrible toll.  They stand accused ofnegligence and of bearing a share of the responsibility for cancer, yet they will escapethe grilling they deserve.”

ASH was not directly involved in the cases, but supported and encouraged the action.

ENDS

 

Contact Clive Bates, Director (020) 7739 5902

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