Israel - first menthol-cigarette lawsuit in the world filed in Israel...

May 7, 2009 - What is being described as the world's first class action lawsuit on behalf of people who developed lung cancer from smoking menthol cigarettes has been initiated by Israel's leading anti-tobacco attorney, Amos Hausner, The Jerusalem Post has learned. According to the lawsuit, Israeli law forbids adding any foreign ingredient to cigarettes. The fact that menthol is added without the product's label informing customers that it makes them more addictive is an additional violation, the lawsuit contends. The suit further argued that Dubek was guilty of "misleading consumers" by not warning that menthol additives make their products more addictive. Consumer protection laws require a manufacturer not to mislead the public, not only by action but also by omission.

Hausner is representing the family of a Rehovot mother of four who died of a tumor at age 47 after many years of smoking Dubek's Montana brand of cigarettes. He is also acting on behalf of an estimated 3,000 other menthol-cigarette smokers who developed cancer here during the past seven years. The statute of limitations on a manufacturer's responsibility for damage caused by its products runs out after seven years.

The Jerusalem lawyer is asking the Central District Court to recognize the case as a class action suit against Dubek - Israel's largest tobacco manufacturer - for NIS 3 billion. It will probably be several months before the court gives its response.

Research conducted by tobacco companies a decade or more ago to identify additives that increase tobacco addiction showed that menthol did the trick, and the companies made a special effort to market cigarettes with this additive. Menthol not only gives smokers a "more pleasant" feeling in their mouths and throats, but also keeps tobacco smoke - with its many toxins - inside the lungs longer, making it even more dangerous. The facts of increased toxicity have been confirmed by Prof. Ben-Ami Sela, director of the pathological chemistry institute at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer. Foreign research has shown that African Americans become even more addicted to menthol cigarettes than whites do.

Reference: Class action suit filed over menthol cigarettes by JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH, The Jerusalem Post, 5/7/2009.

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