Litigation against the tobacco industry has been based on grounds such as “health harms, wrongful death, health-care costs, involvement in smuggling, racketeering, conspiracy, defective product, concealment of scientific evidence, fraud, deception, misconduct, failure to warn consumers adequately of the dangers of tobacco smoke, negligence, and exposing the public to unreasonable danger.” The World Health Organization encourages individuals and governments to take legal action for the purpose of tobacco control.
Litigation puts the industry on the political defensive, forces tobacco companies to the bargaining table, and may result in large settlements. Beyond dollar amounts, other effects of awards or settlements may include the release of internal industry documents; agreements from the industry to restrict marketing; the channeling of settlement money to public health; increased media attention to the problem of tobacco use; decreased youth access to tobacco products; and improvements in protection from secondhand smoke. However, policy changes as a direct result of litigation have been limited.
Increasingly, tobacco companies and their allies are challenging effective legislative measures adopted by countries seeking to protect the health of their citizens. These legal challenges are expensive to defend and invariably delay implementation of laws passed in the interest of public health.
In November 2010 the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) Conference of Parties adopted the Punta
del Este Declaration in support of FCTC Parties that are facing legal attacks for implementing
the treaty and its guidelines.
THE INDUSTRY Says:
We will continue to use all necessary resources … and where necessary litigation, to actively challenge unreasonable regulatory proposals.Louis Camilleri, Chairperson and CEO, Philip Morris International, 2010
The government Says:
It is fair to say that we are being targeted by what can only be described as subversive and disgraceful tactics by the tobacco industry, including using every available vehicle and opportunity to try and intimidate and/or threaten us to withdraw the legislation.Jane Halton, Secretary of the Department of Health and Ageing, Australia, 2011