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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health
Building capacity for a tobacco-free world
July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA
Objective: : Suing tobacco companies, a viable strategy to improve public health and to hold those companies accountable for their reprehensible conduct, should be encouraged.
Methods: The author has analyzed hundreds of lawsuits against tobacco companies. One important category of lawsuits against the tobacco industry has focused on the industry's efforts to deter smoking cessation among health-conscious smokers by promoting so-called “light” or “ultra light” cigarettes as a less hazardous alternative to regular cigarettes. As Canadian courts in Newfoundland and British Columbia consider lawsuits on behalf of victims of the tobacco industry's “deceptive trade practices,” i.e., its “light” cigarettes scam, at least 38 similar cases have proceeded in the U.S.
Results: The highest court in Massachusetts has allowed a class action lawsuit to proceed on behalf of consumers who have been defrauded by the cigarette companies' "light" cigarette scam. The family of an Oregon woman who died of lung cancer after having switched to a “light” cigarette won a US$100,165,000 verdict against Philip Morris. Similar cases have the potential to succeed in holding the companies accountable for their misconduct.