Finland - Court of Appeals Hears Cigarette Liability Case, Decision Spring 2010..

September 1, 2009 - A lawsuit against two tobacco companies went to the Helsinki Court of Appeals on Monday, August 31st. The plaintiffs are two women who have smoked for a long time, and who are seeking damages from the American Group and the Finnish subsidiary of British-American Tobacco (BAT).

While some American victims of smoking-related diseases have managed to successfully sue tobacco companies for their smoking-related illnesses, this has not happened in Finland.

In the first phase of the lawsuit, Helsinki District Court found for the defendants, saying that the plaintiffs were aware of the dangers of smoking.

Court cases against tobacco companies have become a specialty of Erkki Aurejärvi, Professor Emeritus of Civil Law. Appearing on YLE’s morning television programme on Monday, Aurejärvi was very critical of the Finnish justice system, which he said is not capable of making important decisions. “Courts in Finland do not make decisions which they fear might lead to something important”, Aurejärvi said on YLE.

Tobacco Industry Documents as Evidence: Aurejärvi has acquired documents from the tobacco industry, which came up during court trials in the United States. The documents focus on the risks linked with smoking.

The plaintiffs argue that tobacco companies have deliberately marketed their products to children. Aurejärvi says that cigarettes have contained additives to make smoking easy even for young children. The tobacco industry has developed additives that expand the bronchial tubes, making it easier for children to inhale smoke.

Aurejärvi also alleges that tobacco companies have deliberately tried to maximize nicotine addiction. “It is science that has been practiced in laboratories behind closed doors since the 1950s.”

Deceptive Advertising of Light Cigarettes Alleged The plaintiffs in the ongoing appeal are two smokers, one of whom suffers from emphysema and the other has lung cancer. They smoked light cigarettes, and a major issue in the case is whether or not the tobacco companies have engaged in deceptive marketing. “Light cigarettes were marketed as light products. ‘You can smoke these with a good conscience’.” Auerjärvi notes that light cigarettes were created as an alternative to quitting cigarettes.

Snuffed Out Probing the myth that 'light' cigarettes are better for you by Thijs Niemantsverdriet, Newsweek, 11/20/2007.

A decision in the case is expected next spring.

Reference: Court of Appeals Hears Cigarette Liability Case,, 8/31/2009.

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